MASSACRE AT CHIOS
The painting I’ve chosen is The Massacre at Chios, by Eugène Delacroix. It was painted in 1824. It’s the second major oil painting on canvas of Delacroix and its dimensions are 419x354 cm. First, it was exposed on the Salon (Paris). Now the painting is in The Louvre in Paris. Delacroix decided to paint this painting because he thought that a painting about the war between the Greeks and the Ottomans was going to have the attention of the people.
The painting represents a scene of the independence war of the Greeks against the Ottoman Empire in 1824.
In the foreground we can see the people. All of them have expression of suffering. The main figure of the painting is the woman who is on the left. She has an expression of suffering and she is looking out of the painting with horror.
In the background we can see an Ottoman riding a horse with a woman who can be his slave. There are two other persons painted in black, and a scene of fight.
The theme of the painting is the independence war between the Greeks and the Ottomans, it’s a historical event.
The painting is composed of three pyramids of humans.
The dead people create a horizontal line across the centre of the canvas; the eye is free to move across each catastrophe. In the background another group is struggling, trying to protect their lives, but they don’t make the viewer distract the attention from the main focus of piece.
The colors of the Greek families awaiting death or slavery are very close in tone. The canvas is in subdued colors to evoke a somber mood. Also, Delacroix added splashes of blood red or sky blue to emphasize drama.
Delacroix always had an interesting approach to lighting. He left most of the canvas in a mysterious half shadow, while he illuminated certain figures. Two of the murderers, on the left, are hidden in a dark shadow. Their faces can’t be seen very well. The bodies and faces of the dead are highlighted, emphasizing the turmoil and fright felt by the victims.
Delacroix used a quick, blurred brushstroke, creating the impression of desolation. It seems unbelievable that such tragedy could have happened. That’s why he painted the Massacre of Chios like an illusionary nightmare.
CONNECTION WITH THE STYLE
Delacroix chose Dante as source of inspiration to paint some of his paintings. He was the most emblematic romantic painter of the first third of the 19th century and his influence extended to impressionist’ painters. We can see colours as red, yellow, etc…, the illumination and the half-naked bodies these are features of romanticism in this painting.
WHY I LIKE THIS PAINTING
I like the sad colours and the suffering represented in the figures of the painting. I also like the history of the painting, the war between the Greeks and the Ottomans.