Théodore Géricault Biography | Oil Painting Reproductions

9- 26-1791Rouen, FRA - 1-26-1824 Paris, FRA

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Géricault, Théodore

Jean Louis Andre Theodore Gericault studied under Carl Vernet and Pierre-Narcisse Guerin, although he was frequently at odds with the latter because of his passion for Rubens and his unconventional approach to interpreting nature.

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.

The Patriotic Fervor of Romanticism and Gericault.

Jean Théodore Géricault made his debut at the Salon of 1812 with his spirited portrait of a cavalry officer on horseback The Charging Chasseur and followed this with The Wounded Cuirassier in 1814, subjects which were immensely popular at the height of the Napoleonic Empire. During the Hundred Days, he served as a volunteer in a Royalist regiment, witnessing soldiers and horses at close quarters. He traveled and studied in Italy from 1816-19, and on his return to Paris embarked on the large-scale works which established his reputation as one of the leading French Romantics.

In the 1820's he painted a series of portraits of the mentally ill, he captures the dark looks, glazed eyes and vague expressions, giving a disillusioned view of their marginalized and lonely condition. The monomaniacs are a metaphor of the ordinary individual who is a prisoner of his own vices.

Gericault, the Exotic Perfumes of Romanticism.

Perhaps his most significant, and certainly most ambitious work, is The Raft of the Medusa, which depicted the aftermath of a contemporary French shipwreck, Meduse, in 1816, sank off the coast of West Africa, in which the captain had left the crew and passengers to die, 150 people crowded onto a miserable raft for days and days at sea in terrible conditions. In the end, only 15 survived. Struck by this dramatic event, which could also be seen as a metaphor for Napoleon's ruinous fall, Gericault executed this large and powerful painting. The painting's notoriety stemmed from its indictment of a corrupt establishment. It surely excited the imagination of the young Eugène Delacroix, who posed for one of the dying figures. 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.

For an artist renowned for his equestrian subjects it is ironic that he died as a result of a fall from his horse. Although he died young, Jean Théodore Géricault was one of the pioneers of the Romantic movement.

Art Movement History: Romanticism
Artists Influencing Theodore Géricault: Carle Vernet, Pierre-Narcisse Guérin
He Traveled To Italy, England
Painters Theodore Géricault Influenced: Eugène Delacroix

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