Eugene Delacroix’s Liberty sketch sells

A unique sketch in oil for Eugene Delacroix’s iconic painting Liberty Leading the People (1830) just sold for £3.1m ($4.1m).

Delacroix painted the canvas to commemorate that's year's July Revolution, which resulted in the overthrow of France's Charles X.

Delacroix Liberty Leading

The sketch lays out the main composition of the work

The new government of France bought it immediately. It was originally intended to be displayed in the throne room at the national palace.

However, two years later the new powers decided the work was too inflammatory and returned it to Delacroix. Today it can be seen in the Louvre in Paris.  

This sketch is markedly similar to the finished work and the only example known to have been executed in oil.

Liberty Leading

It's likely Delacroix made the sketch shortly before beginning work on the canvas

It was probably produced in the later planning stages, given all the figures in the final painting are outlined here.

The remarkable piece was the headliner of an auction of 19th century European and Orientalist art at Christie’s this afternoon.

“We are extremely excited to present the only known oil sketch of Delacroix’s masterpiece to collectors this December”, said head of sale Arne Everwijn.

“The fluidity of the sketch and the use of sharp diagonal lines exemplifies the artistic mastery of Delacroix, portraying the dynamism and movement for which the final composition is known.”

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