Eugene Delacroix ‘Liberty Leading the People’
The c.1830 oil sketch by Eugène Delacroix for ‘Liberty Leading the People’ that sold for £2.6m at Christie’s. Image credit: Christie’s Images Ltd 2017.

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Delacroix’s finished painting, which commemorates the July Revolution of 1830, is regarded as one of the most important works of art of the age and now hangs in the Louvre. It was acquired by the museum in 1831 for 3000 francs.

While numerous sketches and preparatory studies for the painting are known (often unsigned and many having lost their attribution over the years), Christie’s said this example is the only known oil sketch “that fully outlines the intended final composition”.

The 2ft 1in x 2ft 8in (65 x 81cm) oil on canvas from c.1830 was one of those that had been overlooked for much of its existence and had previously misattributed to Delacroix’s apprentice, Pierre Andrieu (1821-1892).

Offered here as an a fully autograph work, it came from a Swiss collection and was estimated at £700,000-1m for the auction at Christie’s 19th Century European & Orientalist Art sale on December 14.

Strong competition emerged on the day which helped it over the estimate before it sold for a sum that was an auction record for the artist, according to Art Sales Index.

The auctioneers said no buyer details could be released at this stage.

Eugene Delacroix ‘Liberty Leading the People’

Eugène Delacroix’s finished painting ‘Liberty Leading the People’ which is now in the Louvre museum.