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Robert Ballagh, b.1943

Liberty on the Barricades (After Delacroix)1969

Robert Ballagh’s ‘Liberty on the Barricades (After Delacroix)’ is an interpretation of ‘Liberty Leading the People’ (1830), a painting by the French Romantic painter, Eugene Delacroix. The subject matter of Delacroix’s painting is the turmoil and violence that continued on the streets of Paris following the French Revolution in 1789. In France, Liberty is depicted as a lady, her image is influenced by the statues of Ancient Greece, alluding to the ideals of democracy that began in Ancient Greece and Rome. In Delacroix’s composition Liberty charges forward holding the French flag to represent democracy. The figure on the left in a nightshirt refers to the cruelty of the King’s soldiers who often killed men in their beds. Behind Liberty a mob of men surge forward and in the background the city is shrouded in smoke. Ballagh’s graphic interpretation of Delacroix’s work is one of several pieces created by the artist from the late 1960s which reinterpret the material of classical artists depicting scenes of political upheaval and violence, such as Francisco Goya and Jacques-Louis David. These works reflect Ballagh’s ongoing engagement with contemporary social and political issues, in particular the conflict in Northern Ireland. Ballagh uses a range of media in his work including paint, printmaking, collage and montage. He has also worked as a graphic artist and set designer and has designed stamps for An Post. In this work, in keeping with the graphic style of Pop Art which he adopted from the late 1960’s, he simplified the elements of colour, tone and texture, reducing the image to a bold outline using flat, opaque areas of colours.

MediumAcrylic on canvas
Dimensions Unframed, 183 x 244 cm
Credit LineIMMA Collection: Heritage Gift by Bank of Ireland, 1999
Item NumberIMMA.1260
Copyright For copyright information, please contact the IMMA Collections team: [email protected].
Image Caption
Robert Ballagh, Liberty on the Barricades (After Delacroix), 1969, Acrylic on canvas, Unframed, 183 x 244 cm, Collection Irish Museum of Modern Art, Heritage Gift by Bank of Ireland, 1999

For copyright information, please contact the IMMA Collections team: [email protected].

About the Artist

Robert Ballagh b.1943

Robert Ballagh is an Irish painter and designer credited with the introduction of Pop Art to Ireland. His milieu encompasses set design, the final series of Irish Punt banknotes, commemorative stamps and portraits of Irish literary, historical and establishment figures. He represented Ireland at the 1969 Paris Biennale and his paintings are held in several public collections. Ballagh is a member of Aosdána and the president of the Ireland Institute for Historical and Cultural Studies.
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