What is the difference between Delacroix's Liberty Leading the People and Picasso's Guernica?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that one of the fundamental differences between both art samples is that they represent opposite extremes of the struggle for political resistance.  Delacroix's painting is one whereby there is a positive depiction of the struggle.  Lady liberty stands tall amongst all and is a force with whom there is complete loyalty and trust.  The dead bodies that are beneath her are only meant to highlight the importance of her guidance, of the struggle to be free.  Sacrifice is the feeling one experiences after witnessing this vision of death.  In the end, the pain and suffering that one endures is placed in this context of a larger vision of sacrifice and honor.  Lady liberty and the notion of resistance are clearly displayed as positive political ends, worthy of pursuit.  On the other extreme would be Picasso's work.  In this vision of the struggle, there is a feeling of total disorder and pure sadness.  The portrait of resistance is shown to be one where there is complete mourning and pain, a vision of human suffering resulting from the struggle to be free, to embrace the ends of lady liberty.  In Picasso, there is a feeling of resounding sadness associated with the costs of political resistance, whereas in Delacroix, one sees sadness but sees it as a necessary sacrifice for a transcendent end.  This vision of totality is one that is sorely lacking in Picasso's work.