From the Baroque Period through the Romantic Age
The artists of the Realism era depicted in their paintings what they saw around them. Unfortunately it was war. During the eighteenth century, faced with the reality of war, the era of idealism seemed absurd to most and therefore realism scenes of battles and the aftermath of the dying were the topics for an artist to create on canvas. Even through these times of war, these artists conveyed different messages, which were quite apparent through their work. There were three particular paintings that depicted those dark times and they are: Eugene Delacroix, Liberty Leading the People c. 1830, Ernest Meissonier, Memory of Civil War (The Barricades) c. 1849, and Gustave Courbet, Burial at Ornans, c. 1849.
Eugene Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People c. 1830
This detailed painting depicts a battle which took place during the Revolution in July 1830. The painting is very realistic. In Paris, on July 27, 28, and 29, 1830, Eugene Delacroix witnessed first hand the uprising known as the Trois Glorieuses (“Three Glorious Days”), and was started by liberal republicans for violating the Constitution of the government (Sayre, H. M. 2010). Charles X, the last Bourbon king of France was ousted out and Louis Philippe replaced him as the new leader. Delacroix saw this particular battle as good subject matter for a painting and he went to work. His imagination was fired up with passion. He knew this event would change the course of history and reverse the trends of the artist. He depicted this with all manner of things: a natural world portrayed with rage with an explosion on a street in Paris (Louvre Museum. n.d.). Delacroix depended solely on members of the royal family and donations from various institutions to help fund his art projects. Sketches were done prior to the start of each painting. Each scene and element was carefully drawn out in detail. He focus was on the dramatic and visual impact of each scene. The main vocal point being the crowd breaking through the barricades to make its final assault on the enemy camp. Liberty depicted as a woman of the people wearing a Phrygian hat with her hair in curls onto her neck, appears to be rebellious, and victorious raising the red, white and blue flag in her right hand as a symbol of struggle which unfurls toward the lit sky like a flame. Liberty is wearing a yellowish colored dress draped and gathered at the waistline with a belt which streams down her sides (Louvre Museum. n.d.).The dress appears to have slipped down exposing her breasts and underarm hair which was considered vulgar by classical artists whom believed a goddess’s skin should be soft and smooth. The realism of her nudity, her Greek profile, full mouth, straight nose, a slight chin and smoldering gaze are a reminder of the Women of Algiers at their home. Her body illuminated on the right side, as she stands proud and noble. She stands out from all the men in the painting. Delacroix had written to his brother and stated, "I have undertaken a modern subject, a barricade, and although I may not have fought for my country, at least I shall have painted for her. It has restored my good spirits" (Louvre Museum. n.d.). There appears to be a corpse in the picture without pants with his arms stretched out and shirt turned upward, this is another mythical reference to a classical nude model Hector, referring to a Homeric hero (Louvre Museum. n.d.). There is a Swiss guard lying on his back, wearing a campaign uniform: a grayish blue colored coat with red decorations on the collar, white gaiters, low profile shoes, and a shako. Here is where the balance of the artist’s brushwork and rhythm of the scene is apparent. Even though the background on the right side of the painting consists of an urban type landscape, it still...