Restoration Journey: Delacroix’s ‘Liberty Leading the People’ at the Louvre

The renowned artwork “Liberty Leading the People” by Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863) is set to undergo a significant restoration at the Louvre, with the painting expected to return to public view in spring 2024. This iconic piece was carefully removed from its display in the museum this past Wednesday, making way for the temporary exhibition of Ary Scheffer’s “Les Femmes souliotes” (1827).

Created in 1830, “Liberty Leading the People” captures a topless woman brandishing the blue-white-red flag amidst a Parisian barricade during the events of the July Revolution. It represents a pivotal moment in French history, coinciding with the fall of King Charles and the rise of Louis-Philippe I. Laurence des Cars, President and Director of the Louvre, emphasized the global significance of Delacroix’s masterpiece, expressing anticipation for the restoration process to rejuvenate its original allure.

Measuring an imposing 3.25 meters by 2.60 meters, this large-format oil-on-canvas artwork usually occupies a prominent place in one of the Louvre’s grand red rooms, alongside Delacroix’s other renowned pieces, “The Prize of Constantinople by the Crusaders” and “The Death of Sardanapalus.” Following an extensive ten-month restoration, “The Death of Sardanapalus” is scheduled to return to its designated location on September 27, as confirmed by the Louvre.

To facilitate the reinstallation of “The Death of Sardanapalus,” the Mollien room in the Denon wing will be temporarily closed to the public for one week starting from September 20. The Louvre expresses gratitude for visitors’ understanding during this brief closure.

The restoration of “Liberty Leading the People” is part of a comprehensive restoration initiative initiated in 2019, focused on preserving large-format artworks from the 19th century. Sébastien Allard, Director of the Paintings Department at the Louvre, emphasized that the restoration process was meticulously planned, involving advanced techniques such as x-rays and canvas analyses. The primary goal is to remove oxidized varnishes that have aged and yellowed over time, thus restoring the painting’s original blue-white-red chromatic range symbolizing liberty.

Over the years, the Louvre has embarked on numerous restoration projects, encompassing over 200 artworks, including substantial pieces. These efforts have ranged from restoring Leonardo da Vinci’s “La Belle Ferronnière” in 2015 to Constance Mayer-Lamartinière’s “La Mère infortunée” in 2022. Works by renowned artists like Eugène Delacroix, Titian, and Nicolas Poussin have also undergone meticulous restoration processes, underscoring the Louvre’s commitment to preserving its artistic treasures for future generations to appreciate.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *