Delacroix’s “Liberty Leading the People” Analysis

There is always a different interpretation when you have a different factor in mind. When I was thinking of leadership related issues, it never occurred to me that through the interpretation of famous art, the history and the leadership qualities of leaders are depicted. I’m not much of an art historian, however, it is hard to not know the painting by Eugene Delacroix called “Liberty Leading the People.” It is painted in the 1830s with the art movement of Romanticism. The painting is a depiction of the French Revolution and the overcoming success of the French Government by the people. This painting was painted as a Revolution propaganda poster that intended to show the determination and victory of the fighters against the government, and it included people from different working classes. This painting intends to inspire the idea of hope and leadership of the people that fought in the French Revolution.

In the painting, the Parisians are fighting with the woman leading them with the French flag. The woman is the allegorical representation of Liberty. The Parisians in this picture is lead by the concept of a leader, the leader to liberty. With it depicted as a woman with her clothes ripped, it showed that their road to liberty is a tough one. The dead soldiers and people that the woman is stepping on, shows their overcoming of obstacles. Those that died in the fight also paved their way to their victory. The concept of leadership is reflected through the hierarchy of this painting. The people, the child with the gun, the worker, the man in the top hat all followed the Liberty (woman). No matter what working class, people all followed the leader. Though in history, the people were lead by idea of freedom, and this concept is transferred into a physical being. Therefore, it shows that people need a leader to lead them, but also the same purpose. It is the concept of freedom that lead the people, and this concept can also serve as a leader because it brought out the leadership qualities in each individuals. The child with the gun is depicted as strong and powerful, standing by liberty, a child is just as important as the man in the top hat. I think that each person painted in painting all shows the sense of leadership, their determination and power. The man in the top hat, holding the rifle with a serious face. Therefore, this picture reveals more than just the victory of the people because it revealed the leadership qualities and concepts.

It is very interesting to decode this picture when having the concept of “leadership” in mind. There is a pyramidal organization of this painting with liberty woman at the top and the rest below her. This pyramid organization reveals more like an hierarchy, but an hierarchy that shows that people follow a leader at top. At the same time, the leader in this painting is a woman representing liberty, as a result, it shows that the people were all equal. They followed a concept and the people were all part of this battle for liberty. This brings me to the concept that a great leader is one that does not put them in front of others, but a part of them. I think this painting is very interesting because it unravels a lot of concepts of leadership. Though it is not direct, however, it infers to the concept of leadership that dates back in history of the French Revolution.

This painting is also very interesting because Delacroix stated that he painted this painting because if he couldn’t fight with the others in the actual war, his duty was to fight with his painting. His concept suggests the  concept of leadership and that everyone should act as a part of the battle and everybody’s input is just as important and effective. His painting is a painting that represents more than 1000 words, but the concepts that cannot be described with words but only felt.


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