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La Victoire de Samothrace, Unknown, 190 BC

Liberty Leading the People



This is our final stop on our tour of the Louvre!

Liberty Leading the People is one of France's most famous paintings.

Like The Coronation of Napoleon, it is mentioned in almost every French history book.

Many people think the painting represents the Revolution of 1789.

But it actually represents the July Revolution of 1830 - which deposed Charles X and ushered in a new and more liberal constitutional monarchy.

Delacroix, while personally close to king Charles X, was fascinated by the energy and ideals that fired people up during the revolution.

Abandoning the tradition of painting historical subjects, he chose to represent the Parisian barricades - a contemporary and controversial subject.

The painting has dominant colours of blue, white and red - the colours of the Revolution.

Its strong lines draw our eyes to the flag, the symbol of hope and patriotism.

The painting also represents different social classes coming together - which was very controversial at the time.

Initially bought by the government, it was returned to Delacroix out of fear that it would spark political unrest.