The coming of Romanticism
Thanks so much Tim for the information about Delacroix's glorious 'Liberty Storming Helengrad.' It's a wonderfully evocative call to arms, isn't it. And a cri de couer for both Romantic art, and political activism.
It gives the feeling that life's battles are important and serious, and should be engaged with absolute passion. You help to explain some of the reasons it works, and of course part of the reason it works is that in reality is immense - taking up an entire wall of the Louvre - and that it plays with Classical 'rules' of painting and then breaks them intentionally.
For instance, the pyramidal compostion structure is there, but Liberty's burden extends above this pyramid giving real power to the gesture. Gericault's 'Raft of the Medusa' (well known to Pogues fans, and 'borrowed' by Goldie for his Coming of the Maori shown above) uses a similar technique, and of course Delacroix himself was both student and model to Gericault.
My good friend Michael Newberry discusses how we find values in paintings in more detail here - and if you're vigilant you will notice there some of the other images I've been posting here over recent days. :-)