Liberty Leading the People is a painting by Eugène Delacroix honoring the July Revolution of 1830, which toppled King Charles X of France. A woman of the people with a Phrygian cap personifying the concept of Liberty leads a varied group of people forward over a barricade and the bodies of the fallen. She is holding the flag of the French Revolution – the tricolor, which again became France’s national flag after these events – in one hand and wielding a bayonetted musket with the other. The figure of Liberty is also viewed as an emblem of France and the French Republic, known as Marianne. The artwork is sometimes wrongly thought to depict the French Revolution of 1789. Delacroix depicted Liberty as a symbolic goddess figure and a vigorous woman of the people. The mound of corpses, and wreckage acts as a kind of pedestal from which Liberty strides, barefoot and bare-breasted, out of the canvas and into the viewer’s space.
Delacroix painted his work in the autumn of 1830. In a letter to his brother dated 21 October, he wrote: “My bad mood is vanishing thanks to hard work. I’ve embarked on a modern subject—a barricade. And if I haven’t fought for my country at least, I’ll paint for her.” Liberty Leading the People is exhibited in the Louvre in Paris.