“Liberty leading the people”, an iconic painting by the French painter Eugéne Delacroix (1798-1863) that alludes to the popular revolts against the monarch Charles of 2024.
The work that has among its most emblematic fragments the torso of a woman with her breasts uncovered, brandishing the French flag on a barricade, in the midst of insurgents in the heart of Paris, was painted by the romantic artist in 1830, the year of the fall of King Charles X and the rise to the throne of Luis Felipe I.
The painting, one of the best known and most visited in the Louvre, soon became a liberal and revolutionary allegory inside and outside France, an allegation against the constitutional violations perpetrated by Charles X during the Second Restoration.
The dismantling operation of this large format oil painting (3.25 m by 2.60 m) was carried out in the large Mollien room of the Louvre, painted entirely in red, where Delacroix’s work is exhibited along with other famous works such as “The Raft of the Medusa”, another great romantic canvas by Théodore Géricault (1818-1819), according to the AFP news agency.
“Liberty Leading the People” was restored almost 100 years ago, but in that period the varnishes on the work have oxidized and yellowed the painting, altering in particular the blue, white and red color range of the canvas.
The restoration was an operation planned “for a long time using x-rays and analysis,” the head of the Louvre’s paintings department, Sébastien Allard, told AFP. According to the specialist, the operation is part of an “important restoration campaign launched in 2019 for the large canvases of the 19th century.”
Delacroix’s work had suffered minor damage in February of this year when an apparently unbalanced young woman made an inscription with a marker in the lower right part of the painting that represents a woman, allegorically of freedom, leading an insurrectionary people.
On that occasion the museum sent a restorer to determine the damage caused and try to repair it. The work lasted just two hours, since the marker remained on the exterior varnish part of it and did not reach the paint.
“Liberty Leading the People” has only left its normal location in the Louvre on three occasions, where it presides over the Mollien Room along with “The Raft of the Medusa” by Théodore Géricault: in 1999 it was loaned for an exhibition in Tokyo and in 2004 for another in Strasbourg.