Eugene Delacroix and The Massacre at Chios

The great French Romantic painter Eugene Delacroix had a profound impact stirring European’s empathy for Greek civilians’ suffering at the hands of the Turkish military.

Delacroix’s masterpiece The Massacre of Chios provoked international outrage and led to increased support for the Greek cause worldwide. It caused an outcry in the French public and placed much pressure on the French Government to intervene in the war and take up arms to defend the Hellenes.

Delacroix’s focus of work was one of the most horrific massacres of the War of Greek Independence. The horror occurred on the island of Chios in April 1822. The Turkish military killed 42,000 men, women and children, enslaved nearly 50,000 and exiled another 23,000. In the end, only 2,000 citizens remained on a decimated island that once was prosperous with 117,000 inhabitants.

Studying the faces one sees the despair of the dying civilians at the mercy of a slaughter by Turkish horsemen. In the foreground is a baby laying on his dying mother –- as disturbing today as it was for the audiences who were moved by the painting in the 1820’s.

More information on Wikipedia:

Eugene Delacroix

The Massacre at Chios Massacre

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