Yes I’m cross . . .
Well, I was very cross when I started this post, but the phone rang, my attention was diverted. I quickly saved, dealt with the phone query, then an important email and blah, blah, blah – a week later and I see the above title on my dashboard, but have now cooled down.
As I’ve mentioned before I do a lot of my silk painting with the radio on in the background. Last week we had the European elections taking place which means all kinds of extreme views got aired in tight-lipped mean and unpleasant exchanges. It made me angry and the above famous Delacroix painting came to mind representing the values of the July Revolution of 1830 in France. Nowadays, we seem to be living in a less energetically hopeful age.
Then, another famous painting I’ve always admired followed in the wake of my angry thoughts, David’s ‘Death of Marat’. One of the most famous paintings associated with the French Revolution which had rocked Europe over 40 years earlier than the July Revolution.
Of course, a work of art is always the creation of the artists working in their own time for their own patron or audience, but great art lends itself to reinterpretation by future generations. The painting ‘Liberty leading the people’ was Delacroix’s substitution for not personally manning the barricades in the 1830 July Revolution in France. He was also painting in the early nineteenth-century fashion for an artist to be angry, passionately independent and a supporter of fringe causes. He depicts fighting for a cause. Whereas David, a famous history painter of the late eighteenth century, also on what we might say now the ‘anti-establishment’ side, chose to paint dying for a cause. He powerfully represents his colleague and friend, Marat, as ‘martyred hero’ of the Revolution. He paints Marat with a strong, masculine body only defeated by the cunning of an assassin, Charlotte Corday.
Contemporary Europe post the financial crash maybe having a tough time, but these two images forcefully reminded me that violence and revolution is not a solution to contemporary difficulties – (perhaps a trite comment, but a genuine sentiment).