It is one of the most emblematic works of the Louvre. Liberty Leading the People, Delacroix’s masterpiece, left its location in one of the large red rooms of the Parisian museum on Wednesday September 20 for restoration. The painting of the topless woman brandishing the French flag on a barricade in the middle of insurgents in the heart of Paris is under restoration until spring 2024 and will be temporarily replaced by the painting which was located just opposite, Les Femmes souliotes, by Ary Scheffer, dated 1827.

Liberty Leading the People was produced by Delacroix (1798-1863) in 1830, the year of the fall of King Charles X and the accession to the throne of Louis-Philippe I. An allegorical work inspired by the Three Glorious Revolutions in France, this large-format oil on canvas (3.25 meters by 2.60 meters) is usually exhibited alongside The Capture of Constantinople by the Crusaders and The Death of Sardanapalus, Delacroix’s two greatest paintings. The latter itself had been under restoration for ten months and should return to its location on September 27, according to the Louvre Museum.

“Long prepared in advance by x-rays and analyses” of the canvas, the restoration of Liberty Leading the People takes place “as part of a major restoration campaign launched in 2019 for the large formats of the 19th century”, specified to Agence France-Presse the director of the paintings department of the Louvre, Sébastien Allard. To restore the painting’s shine, “the oxidized varnishes which have become yellow which alter the blue-white-red chromatic range of La Liberté must in particular be removed using solvents”, he specified.

Since 2015, more than two hundred restorations, some of which are large-scale, have been carried out by the Louvre Museum. La Belle Ferronnière, by Leonardo da Vinci (2015), The Unfortunate Mother, by Constance Mayer-Lamartinière (2022), The Women of Algiers (2022) and Scenes from the Scio Massacres (2020), by Eugène Delacroix, The Venus du Pardo, by Titian (2016), and The Inspiration of the Poet, by Nicolas Poussin (2019) have also been restored.