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Jean Louis Théodore Géricault

Paintings

Horsewoman Print by Theodore Gericault

Horsewoman

Two Horses Print by Theodore Gericault

Two Horses

Cheval Attache A La Porte De L'ecurie Print by Theodore Gericault

Cheval Attache A La Porte De L'ecurie

Riderless Racers at Rome Print by Theodore Gericault

Riderless Racers at Rome

Leda and the Swan Print by Theodore Gericault

Leda and the Swan

Three Lovers Print by Theodore Gericault

Three Lovers

The Bride of Abydos Print by Theodore Gericault

The Bride of Abydos

A Horse frightened by Lightning Print by Jean-Louis-Andre-Theodore Gericault

A Horse frightened by Lightning

Lions in a Mountainous Landscape Print by Theodore Gericault

Lions in a Mountainous Landscape

Mounted Trumpeters of Napoleon's Imperial Guard Print by Theodore Gericault

Mounted Trumpeters of Napoleon's Imperial Guard

Episode De La Guerre Des Titans Print by Theodore Gericault

Episode De La Guerre Des Titans

Jean Louis Theodore Gericault

The Derby at Epsom

Jean Louis Theodore Gericault

The Raft of the Medusa

Jean Louis Theodore Gericault

The Raft of the Medusa (Study)

Jean Louis Theodore Gericault

The insane

Jean Louis Theodore Gericault

The Page Mazeppa

Jean Louis Theodore Gericault

Company sign for a blacksmith, detail

Jean Louis Theodore Gericault

Gypsum distillery

Jean Louis Theodore Gericault

Coal wagon

Jean Louis Theodore Gericault

La monomaniac de l'envie, The Madwoman

Jean Louis Theodore Gericault
Officer of the guard hunters in the attack

Drawings

Study of a Lion Print by Theodore Gericault

Study of a Lion

The Boxers Print by Theodore Gericault

The Boxers

Fighting Horses Print by Theodore Gericault

Fighting Horses

Venus and Cupid in a Landscape Print by Theodore Gericault

Venus and Cupid in a Landscape

Woman in the Bath Print by Theodore Gericault

Woman in the Bath

Seated Nude Woman Print by Theodore Gericault

Seated Nude Woman

Warrior Holding a Shield and Sword, Seen from the Back Print by Theodore Gericault

Warrior Holding a Shield and Sword, Seen from the Back

Two Horses Exercised by a Jockey Print by Theodore Gericault

Two Horses Exercised by a Jockey

Pity the Sorrows of a Poor Old Man Print by Theodore Gericault

Pity the Sorrows of a Poor Old Man

Horses Fighting in a Stable Print by Theodore Gericault

Horses Fighting in a Stable

Jean Louis Theodore Gericault

The train of silenes

Jean Louis Theodore Gericault

The Return from Russia

Jean Louis Theodore Gericault

Fighting Horses

Jean Louis Theodore Gericault

Mars and Hercules

Jean Louis Theodore Gericault

Horse race in England

Jean Louis Theodore Gericault

Portrait of economists Brunet

Jean Louis Theodore Gericault

Riding Carabinieri officer

Jean Louis Theodore Gericault

Roman butcher

Jean Louis Theodore Gericault

Roman butcher

Jean Louis Theodore Gericault

Sketch sheet with head studies

Jean Louis Theodore Gericault

Sketch sheet with head studies

Jean Louis Theodore Gericault

Study of a dead horse

Jean Louis Theodore Gericault

Study of a dead horse

Jean Louis Theodore Gericault

Study on "The Raft of the Medusa"

Jean Louis Theodore Gericault

Study on "The Raft of the Medusa"

Jean Louis Theodore Gericault

Study sheet with landscape and lions

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A Horse frightened by Lightning Print by Jean-Louis-Andre-Theodore Gericault

A Horse frightened by Lightning

Jean-Louis André Théodore Géricault (French: [ʒɑ̃ lwi ɑ̃dʁe teodoʁ ʒeʁiko]; 26 September 1791 – 26 January 1824) was an influential French painter and lithographer, known for The Raft of the Medusa and other paintings. Although he died young, he was one of the pioneers of the Romantic movement.

Early life

Jean-Louis-Andre-Theodore Gericault Print by Horace Vernet

Jean-Louis-Andre-Theodore Gericault, Horace Vernet

Born in Rouen, France, Géricault was educated in the tradition of English sporting art by Carle Vernet and classical figure composition by Pierre-Narcisse Guérin, a rigorous classicist who disapproved of his student's impulsive temperament yet recognized his talent.[1] Géricault soon left the classroom, choosing to study at the Louvre, where from 1810 to 1815 he copied paintings by Rubens, Titian, Velázquez and Rembrandt. During this period at the Louvre he discovered a vitality he found lacking in the prevailing school of Neoclassicism.[1] Much of his time was spent in Versailles, where he found the stables of the palace open to him, and where he gained his knowledge of the anatomy and action of horses.[2]

Success
The Charging Chasseur, 1812

Géricault's first major work, The Charging Chasseur, exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1812, revealed the influence of the style of Rubens and an interest in the depiction of contemporary subject matter. This youthful success, ambitious and monumental, was followed by a change in direction: for the next several years Géricault produced a series of small studies of horses and cavalrymen.[3] He exhibited Wounded Cuirassier at the Salon in 1814, a work more labored and less well received.[3] Géricault in a fit of disappointment entered the army and served for a time in the garrison of Versailles.[2] In the nearly two years that followed the 1814 Salon, he also underwent a self-imposed study of figure construction and composition, all the while evidencing a personal predilection for drama and expressive force.[4]
Study of the Head of a Youth

A trip to Florence, Rome, and Naples (1816–17), prompted in part by the desire to flee from a romantic entanglement with his aunt,[5] ignited a fascination with Michelangelo. Rome itself inspired the preparation of a monumental canvas, the Race of the Barberi Horses, a work of epic composition and abstracted theme that promised to be "entirely without parallel in its time".[6] In the event, Géricault never completed the painting, and returned to France. In 1821, he painted The Derby of Epsom.

The Raft of the Medusa
Main article: The Raft of the Medusa
The Raft of the Medusa, 1819

Géricault continually returned to the military themes of his early paintings, and the series of lithographs he undertook on military subjects after his return from Italy are considered some of the earliest masterworks in that medium. Perhaps his most significant, and certainly most ambitious work, is The Raft of the Medusa (1818–1819), which depicted the aftermath of a contemporary French shipwreck, Meduse, in which the captain had left the crew and passengers to die.[7] The incident became a national scandal, and Géricault's dramatic interpretation presented a contemporary tragedy on a monumental scale. The painting's notoriety stemmed from its indictment of a corrupt establishment, but it also dramatized a more eternal theme, that of man's struggle with nature.[8] It surely excited the imagination of the young Eugène Delacroix, who posed for one of the dying figures.[9]

The classical depiction of the figures and structure of the composition stand in contrast to the turbulence of the subject, so that the painting constitutes an important bridge between neo-classicism and romanticism. It fuses many influences: the Last Judgment of Michelangelo, the monumental approach to contemporary events by Antoine-Jean Gros, figure groupings by Henry Fuseli, and possibly the painting Watson and the Shark by John Singleton Copley.[10]

The painting ignited political controversy when first exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1819; it then traveled to England in 1820, accompanied by Géricault himself, where it received much praise. While in London, Géricault witnessed urban poverty, made drawings of his impressions, and published lithographs based on these observations which were free of sentimentality.[11] He associated much there with Charlet, the lithographer and caricaturist.[2]

Later life
Monument at Géricault's tomb, by sculptor Antoine Étex

After his return to France in 1821, Géricault was inspired to paint a series of ten portraits of the insane, the patients of a friend, Dr. Étienne-Jean Georget, a pioneer in psychiatric medicine, with each subject exhibiting a different affliction.[12] There are five remaining portraits from the series, including Insane Woman. The paintings are noteworthy for their bravura style, expressive realism, and for their documenting of the psychological discomfort of individuals, made all the more poignant by the history of insanity in Géricault's family, as well as the artist's own fragile mental health.[13] His observations of the human subject were not confined to the living, for some remarkable still-lifes—painted studies of severed heads and limbs—have also been ascribed to the artist.[14] Géricault's last efforts were directed toward preliminary studies for several epic compositions, including the Opening of the Doors of the Spanish Inquisition and the African Slave Trade.[15] The preparatory drawings suggest works of great ambition, but Géricault's waning health intervened. Weakened by riding accidents and chronic tubercular infection, Géricault died in Paris in 1824 after a long period of suffering. His bronze figure reclines, brush in hand, on his tomb at Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, above a low-relief panel of The Raft of the Medusa.

Jean Louis Theodore Gericault

The death of Gericault, Ary Scheffer

References

Eitner, p.1
One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Gilman, D. C.; Thurston, H. T.; Colby, F. M., eds. (1906). "Géricault, Jean-Louis André Théodore". New International Encyclopedia (1st ed.). New York: Dodd, Mead.
Eitner, p.2
Eitner, p.3
Lüthy, Hans: The Temperament of Gericault, Theodore Gericault, page 7. Salander-O'Reilly, 1987. In 1818 Alexandrine-Modeste Caruel gave birth to his son (christened Georges-Hippolyte and given into the care of the family doctor who then sent the child to Normandy where he was raised in obscurity). See also Wheelock Whitney, Géricault in Italy, New Haven/London 1997, and Marc Fehlmann, Das Zürcher Skizzenbuch von Théodore Géricault, Berne 2003.
Eitner, p. 3-4
Raft of the medusa
Eitner, p.4
Riding, p. 73. Having studied the painting by candlelight in the confines of Géricault's studio, he walked into the street and broke into a terrified run.
Riding, p.77
Eitner, p. 5
Eitner, p. 5-6
Patrick Noon: Crossing the Channel, page 162. Tate Publishing Ltd, 2003.
Constable to Delacroix Tate Britain 2003 exhibition. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
Eitner, p. 6

"Riderless Racers in Rome". The Walters Art Museum.
Sources

Ciofalo, John J. The Raft: A Play about the Tragic Life of Théodore Géricault. (2009)
Eitner, Lorenz. "Introduction", Theodore Gericault. Salander-O'Reilly, 1987
Wheelock Whitney. Gericault in Italy. Yale University Press, New Haven/London, 1997
Riding, Christine. "The Raft of the Medusa in Britain", Crossing the Channel: British and French Painting in the Age of Romanticism. Tate Publishing, 2003

Further reading

French painting 1774-1830: the Age of Revolution. New York; Detroit: The Metropolitan Museum of Art; The Detroit Institute of Arts. 1975. (see index)

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