The Death of Sardanapalus is based on the tale of Sardanapalus, the last king of Assyria, from the historical library of Diodorus Siculus, the ancient Greek historian, and is a work of the era of Romanticism. This painting uses rich, vivid and warm colours, and broad brushstrokes. It was inspired by Lord Byron's play Sardanapalus (1821), and in turn inspired a cantata by Hector Berlioz, Sardanapale (1830), and also Franz Liszt's opera, Sardanapale (1845–52, unfinished).
The main focus of Death of Sardanapalus is a large bed draped in rich red fabric. On it lies a man overseeing a scene of chaos with a disinterested eye. He is dressed in flowing white fabrics and sumptuous gold around his neck and head. A woman lies dead at his feet, prone across the lower half of the large bed. She is one of five or six in the scene, all in various shades of undress, and all in assorted throes of death by the hands of the half dozen men in the scene. There are several people being stabbed with knives and one man is dying from a self-inflicted wound from a sword, and a man in the left foreground is attempting to kill an intricately adorned horse. A young man by the king's right elbow is standing behind a side table which has an elaborate golden decanter and a cup. There are golden elephant heads at the base of the bed, as well as various valuable trinkets scattered amongst the carnage. In the background, several architectural elements are visible but difficult to discern.
Delacroix used a painterly brushstroke in this painting, which allows for a strong sense of movement in the work. This scene is chaotic and violent, as showcased by the movement, weapons, and the colors used. The redness of the bed stands out against the somewhat obscured, dark background. The whiteness of Sardanapalus's robe, the creamy lines of the dying women's limbs, and the shimmers of gold objects throughout the scene pull the viewer's eye quickly around the painting.
There is asymmetry in the work, but the composition remains balanced. One woman reclined by an elephant head on the end of the bed is the only figure to engage with the viewer. Everyone else in the painting is focused on the task at hand: death.
According to wikipedia