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The picture of Delacroix reflects one of the tragic episodes in the history of Greece. One day in September 1821, Turkish troops invaded the island of Chios, in the Aegean Sea. In revenge for the fact that the local population sympathized with the events of the people's liberation struggle of the Greek people against the Turkish yoke, the Turks slaughtered tens of thousands of inhabitants and stole thousands of them into slavery.
The painting The Massacre on Chios, became a kind of response to the inhumanity of this action. Against the backdrop of armed horsemen, the inhabitants of the island doomed to death appear before the spectator. They resigned themselves to the impending death, their views are alienated. The Chios are aware of the inevitability and only hold the weeping children tighter. And in the background - neat buildings are located in a valley illuminated by the fertile sun of the Mediterranean. Death also settled there, Turkish troops kill everyone in a row.
The viewer's gaze slides further and the valley is replaced by the cloudy waters of the Aegean Sea, which absorbed all the pain and cruelty of the drama that was played out. A bright strip of sky above the dark surface of the sea, indifferently looks at all participants.
Delacroix returns to the figurative language and symbolism of the ancient Greek tragedy. The Turkish cavalryman, who drags a naked Greek woman along with him, remains unshakable and cold to the suffering of the unfortunate. He is a sign of impending bondage and fetters. The little child is also symbolic, trying in vain to cling to the chest of the murdered mother. Blood flows out of the body of a mortally wounded man with a red stream and generously sprinkles dried soil.
A fragment of a dagger nearby shows that the resistance forces are exhausted and broken. An empty shell near the dagger, symbolizes the moral and material devastation of this scorched and watered with suffering land.
Dali Temptation of St. Anthony