Liberty Leading the People – Delacroix’s famous painting.
“Liberty Leading the People” is certainly Eugène Delacroix’s most well-known painting, and perhaps of any French artist. It is housed in The Louvre in Paris. Painted in 1830, it depicts the French people, particularly Parisians, marching under the tricolour French flag, representing liberty, equality, and fraternity. It’s my favourite French painting. I like it for the looming female figure, symbolic of liberty, lit against the background of smoke and battle and revolution.
It depicts a true event, of course. From 27-29 July 1830, Parisians demonstrated against the new laws affecting freedom of the press, which marked the end of the Bourbons on the throne of France. Subsequently, Louis-Philippe, the Duke of Orléans, became king.
My other favourite Ferdinand Victor Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863) artworks include, “Woman with a Parrot” (1827) at the Museum of Fine Arts of Lyon, and the pieces held at The Louvre: “A Young Tiger Playing with its Mother (1839), “The Duke of Morny’s Apartment (1831-1833), and “The Women of Algiers” (1834).
The youngest of four children, Delacroix’s father died when Eugène was six years old, and his mother died ten years later in 1814, when he was sixteen. From 1815, at the age of seventeen, his artist uncle, Henri-Francois Riesener, supported him through art studies.
At the 1855 World Exposition in Paris, Eugène Delacroix was recognized as one of the greatest French painters of his time.
For admirers of Eugène Delacroix, his home and museum, the Musée National Eugène-Delacroix, is a place to visit. He moved into the home at 6 Rue de Furstemberg in the 6tharrondissement in 1857. It was transformed into a museum in 1932, became the national museum in 1971, and was listed as a Historical Monument in 1991.
He moved into the apartment to be closer to the work he was painting at the time – of the Saint-Sulpice church that was a short walk away. It also had a courtyard garden that he loved.
The Musée National Eugène-Delacroix shows how he lived and worked. It holds his artworks, except those now housed in art galleries. Periodically, there are special exhibitions or archived works, works around special themes, and other interesting displays.
There is a new exhibition at the Musée National Eugène-Delacroix, from 11 September 2021 to 28 February 2022, presenting his collection of artworks from the later period of his life – the last 30 years.
The exhibition, “The Secrets behind Eugène-Delacroix’s Monumental Decoration” includes the mural paintings of the Saint-Sulpice church as well as the National Assembly and the Senate, close to his apartment. There are also the paintings for the Salon de la Paix of the Paris Hôtel de Ville, as well as his lesser-known works.
In the Jardin du Luxembourg, a water fountain pays tribute to Eugène-Delacroix. Sculptor Jules Dalou designed the bust in the 1800s, and it was installed in the garden in 1890. The bronze bust, with Delacroix wearing a coat and scarf, sits on top of a pedestal. There are six water jets below, and three bronze statues known as the allegories: Time, Glory, and Genius of Arts. Time is lifting Glory so that she can place flowers next to Delacroix, and Genius of Arts is applauding. The inscription on the fountain reads: A Eugène Delacroix, 1798-1863, Ses Admirateurs (His Admirers).