[jahsonic.com] - [Next >>]

Théodore Géricault (1791 - 1824)

Lifespan: 1790s - 1824

Related: French art - Romanticism

Heads Severed (1818) - Théodore Géricault

Portrait of a Woman Suffering from Obsessive Envy (ca. 1822) - Théodore Géricault


Théodore Géricault (September 26, 1791 in Rouen, Normandy - January 26, 1824) was a famous French painter, known for The Raft of the Medusa and other paintings. He was one of the pioneers of the Romantic movement.

Géricault was educated in the tradition of English sporting art by Claude Vernet and classicist figure composition by Pierre Guérin. His first major work, The Charging Chasseur (1812), revealed influences of the style of Peter Paul Rubens and an interest in the depiction of contemporary subject matter. A trip to Florence and Rome (1816-17) gave Géricault a fascination with both Michelangelo and Baroque art. Many of his works would share the military themes of his early paintings, and his series of lithographs on military subjects that he created after his return from Italy are considered some of the earlist masterworks in that medium. Perhaps his most recognized and significant work is The Raft of the Medusa (1819), which depicts the aftermath of a contemporary French shipwreck in which the incompetent captain had left the rest of the crew to die. The classical structure of the figures and composition is juxtaposed with the turbulence of the scene and creates an important bridge between the styles of neo-classicism and romanticism. The painting was unsuccessful in France, so he took it to England in 1820, where it received much praise. Upon his return to France, he was inspired to paint a series of portraits of the insane, with each subject exhibiting a different affliction. Weakened by riding accidents and chronic tubercular infection, he died in Paris in 1824 after a long period of suffering. His bronze figure reclines brush in hand on his tomb at Père Lachaise, above a low-relief panel of the Raft of the Medusa. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Th%C3%A9odore_G%C3%A9ricault [Jul 2005]

The Raft of the Medusa

After the shipwreck of the French ship Medusa, dignitaries – 250 of them – took the lifeboats and attempted to tow a raft made for the 149 passengers which would not fit in the lifeboats. The raft was too flimsy to keep them afloat. Those in lifeboats soon noticed that the idea of towing the raft was impractical. They decided to cut the rope and leave the rest of the crew to its fate, four miles (6 km) off shore. On the raft, the situation deteriorated rapidly. Men began to fight among themselves. On the first night 20 men – whites and Africans, soldiers and officers – were killed or committed suicide. Rations dwindled ever more rapidly and on the fourth day some on the raft resorted to cannibalism. On the eighth day, the fittest began throwing the weak and wounded overboard. Thirteen days later, when the raft was found almost by accident, there were only 15 survivors remaining. Five of the survivors, including Jean Charles, the last African crew member, died within days. [Jun 2006]

Heads Severed (1818) - Théodore Géricault

see also: 1810s

your Amazon recommendations - Jahsonic - early adopter products

Managed Hosting by NG Communications