Théodore Géricault

Last updated
Théodore Géricault
Horace Vernet, Jean-Louis-Andre-Theodore Gericault, probably 1822 or 1823, 1998.84, MET.jpg
Théodore Géricault by Horace Vernet, circa 1822–1823
Born(1791-09-26)26 September 1791
Rouen, Normandy, France
Died26 January 1824(1824-01-26) (aged 32)
Paris, France
NationalityFrench
Known for Painting, Lithography
Notable work
The Raft of the Medusa
Movement Romanticism

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

Painting practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a surface

Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a solid surface. The medium is commonly applied to the base with a brush, but other implements, such as knives, sponges, and airbrushes, can be used. The final work is also called a painting.

Lithography printing process

Lithography is a method of printing originally based on the immiscibility of oil and water. The printing is from a stone or a metal plate with a smooth surface. It was invented in 1796 by German author and actor Alois Senefelder as a cheap method of publishing theatrical works. Lithography can be used to print text or artwork onto paper or other suitable material.

<i>The Raft of the Medusa</i> 1818–1819 painting by Théodore Géricault

The Raft of the Medusa is an oil painting of 1818–19 by the French Romantic painter and lithographer Théodore Géricault (1791–1824). Completed when the artist was 27, the work has become an icon of French Romanticism. At 491 cm × 716 cm, it is an over-life-size painting that depicts a moment from the aftermath of the wreck of the French naval frigate Méduse, which ran aground off the coast of today's Mauritania on 2 July 1816. On 5 July 1816, at least 147 people were set adrift on a hurriedly constructed raft; all but 15 died in the 13 days before their rescue, and those who survived endured starvation and dehydration and practised cannibalism. The event became an international scandal, in part because its cause was widely attributed to the incompetence of the French captain.

Contents

Early life

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 while recognizing 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.

Rouen Prefecture and commune in Normandy, France

Rouen (Rouen in French ; is a city on the River Seine in the north of France. It is the capital of the region of Normandy. Formerly one of the largest and most prosperous cities of medieval Europe, Rouen was the seat of the Exchequer of Normandy during the Middle Ages. It was one of the capitals of the Anglo-Norman dynasties, which ruled both England and large parts of modern France from the 11th to the 15th centuries.

Carle Vernet French painter

Antoine Charles Horace Vernet aka. Carle Vernet was a French painter, the youngest child of Claude Joseph Vernet, and the father of Horace Vernet.

Pierre-Narcisse Guérin French painter

Pierre-Narcisse, baron Guérin was a French painter born in Paris.

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]

Neoclassicism Western art movements that draw inspiration from the "classical" art and culture of Ancient Greece or Ancient Rome

Neoclassicism is the name given to Western movements in the decorative and visual arts, literature, theatre, music, and architecture that draw inspiration from the "classical" art and culture of classical antiquity. Neoclassicism was born largely thanks to the writings of Johann Joachim Winckelmann, at the time of the rediscovery of Pompeii and Herculaneum, but its popularity spread all over Europe as a generation of European art students finished their Grand Tour and returned from Italy to their home countries with newly rediscovered Greco-Roman ideals. The main Neoclassical movement coincided with the 18th-century Age of Enlightenment, and continued into the early 19th century, laterally competing with Romanticism. In architecture, the style continued throughout the 19th, 20th and up to the 21st century.

Anatomy The study of the structure of organisms and their parts

Anatomy is the branch of biology concerned with the study of the structure of organisms and their parts. Anatomy is a branch of natural science which deals with the structural organization of living things. It is an old science, having its beginnings in prehistoric times. Anatomy is inherently tied to developmental biology, embryology, comparative anatomy, evolutionary biology, and phylogeny, as these are the processes by which anatomy is generated over immediate (embryology) and long (evolution) timescales. Anatomy and physiology, which study (respectively) the structure and function of organisms and their parts, make a natural pair of related disciplines, and they are often studied together. Human anatomy is one of the essential basic sciences that are applied in medicine.

Success

The Charging Chasseur , 1812 GericaultHorseman.jpg
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]

<i>The Charging Chasseur</i> painting by Théodore Géricault

The Charging Chasseur, or An Officer of the Imperial Horse Guards Charging is an oil painting on canvas of about 1812 by the French painter Théodore Géricault, portraying a mounted Napoleonic cavalry officer who is ready to attack.

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]

<i>The Wounded Cuirassier</i> painting by Théodore Géricault

The Wounded Cuirassier is an oil painting of a single anonymous soldier descending a slope with his horse by the French Romantic painter and lithographer Théodore Géricault (1791–1824). In this 1814 Salon entry, Géricault decided to depict a different view of battle than the generally done views of entire battles or of famous generals bravely fighting. On display just a few months after Napoleon's fall from power, this life-size painting symbolized the French defeats and Napoleon's failure. Though the painting is called The Wounded Cuirassier, there are no visible wounds on the soldier. Additionally, though Géricault generally created several drafts before settling on a final design, there do not seem to be any paintings of his that could be considered precursors to this painting. Only his Signboard of a Hoofsmith, which is currently in a private collection, bears any resemblance in form or function to this painting.

Study of the Head of a Youth Theodore Gericault - Head of a Youth - Google Art Project.jpg
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] However, Géricault never completed the painting and returned to France. In 1821, he painted The Derby of Epsom .

Florence Comune in Tuscany, Italy

Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with 383,084 inhabitants in 2013, and over 1,520,000 in its metropolitan area.

Michelangelo Italian sculptor, painter, architect and poet

Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni or more commonly known by his first name Michelangelo was an Italian sculptor, painter, architect and poet of the High Renaissance born in the Republic of Florence, who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art. Considered by many the greatest artist of his lifetime, and by some the greatest artist of all time, his artistic versatility was of such a high order that he is often considered a contender for the title of the archetypal Renaissance man, along with his rival, the fellow Florentine and client of the Medici, Leonardo da Vinci.

The Raft of the Medusa

The Raft of the Medusa , 1819 JEAN LOUIS THEODORE GERICAULT - La Balsa de la Medusa (Museo del Louvre, 1818-19).jpg
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 (1818–19), which depicted the aftermath of a contemporary French shipwreck, Meduse , in which the captain had left the crew and passengers to die.

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. [7] It surely excited the imagination of the young Eugène Delacroix, who posed for one of the dying figures. [8]

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. [9]

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. [10] He associated much there with Charlet, the lithographer and caricaturist. [2]

Later life

Monument at Gericault's tomb, by sculptor Antoine Etex Perelachaise-Gericault-p1000405.jpg
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. [11] 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. [12] 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. [13]

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. [14] 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.

Works

"Les Monomanes" (Portraits of the Insane)

Related Research Articles

Eugène Delacroix 19th-century French painter

Ferdinand Victor Eugène Delacroix was a French Romantic artist regarded from the outset of his career as the leader of the French Romantic school.

French frigate <i>Méduse</i> (1810) ship

Méduse was a 40-gun Pallas-class frigate of the French Navy, launched in 1810. She took part in the Napoleonic Wars, namely in the late stages of the Mauritius campaign of 1809–1811 and in raids in the Caribbean.

Pierre-Paul Prudhon French painter

Pierre-Paul Prud'hon was a French Romantic painter and draughtsman best known for his allegorical paintings and portraits such as Madame Georges Anthony and Her Two Sons. In particular, he painted a portrait of both of Napoleon's wives.

Antoine Étex French painter and sculptor

Antoine Étex was a French sculptor, painter and architect.

Achille Devéria French painter

Achille Jacques-Jean-Marie Devéria was a French painter and lithographer known for his portraits of famous writers and artists.

Events in the year 1824 in Art.

Le Radeau de la Méduse is a French film by Iranian film director Iradj Azimi. It is based on the 1816 wreak of the French frigate Méduse, and the 1819 painting Le Radeau de la Méduse by Jean-Louis André Théodore Géricault which depicts the event. Filming began in 1987, but was interrupted by Hurricane Hugo in September 1989, which delayed completion of the film until the following year. Distribution of film then languished for several years, until Azimi cut his wrist in front of officials of the French Ministry of Culture.

<i>Portrait of a Kleptomaniac</i> painting by Théodore Géricault

Portrait of a Kleptomaniac or Portrait of an Insane Person is an 1822 oil painting by Théodore Géricault. It is part of series of ten portraits made for the psychiatrist Étienne-Jean Georget and is currently kept in the Museum of Fine Arts, Ghent, Belgium.

<i>The Barque of Dante</i> painting by Eugène Delacroix

The Barque of Dante, sometimes known as Dante and Virgil in Hell, is the first major painting by the French artist Eugène Delacroix, and one of the works signalling a shift in the character of narrative painting from Neo-Classicism towards the Romantic movement. It was completed for the opening of the Salon of 1822 and currently hangs in the Musée du Louvre, Paris.

<i>The 1821 Derby at Epsom</i> painting by Théodore Géricault

The 1821 Derby at Epsom, or Horse Race is an 1821 painting by Théodore Géricault in the Louvre Museum, showing The Derby of that year.

<i>The Massacre at Chios</i> painting by Eugène Delacroix

The Massacre at Chios is the second major oil painting by the French artist Eugène Delacroix. The work is more than four meters tall, and shows some of the horror of the wartime destruction visited on the Island of Chios in the Chios massacre. A frieze-like display of suffering characters, military might, ornate and colourful costumes, terror, disease and death is shown in front of a scene of widespread desolation.

François-Émile de Lansac French painter

François-Émile de Lansac was a French painter.

Pierre-Joseph Dedreux-Dorcy French genre painter

Pierre-Joseph Dedreux-Dorcy, a French genre painter, was born in Paris in 1789. He was the younger brother of the architect Pierre-Anne Dedreux, and uncle of the painter Alfred de Dreux. He studied for some time under Guérin. His paintings, one of which, called 'Bajazet et le Berger,' is in the Museum of Bordeaux, are in the style of Greuze. He also painted, together with Géricault, a picture called 'La Baigneuse'. He died at Bellevue in 1874. His surname was Dedreux, but he was usually called Dorcy.

Jean-Baptiste Mauzaisse was a French painter and lithographer.

<i>The Woman with a Gambling Mania</i> painting by Théodore Géricault

The Woman with Gambling Mania is an 1822 painting by Théodore Géricault. It is a member of a series of ten portraits of people with specific manias done by Géricault between 1820 and 1824, including Portrait of a Kleptomaniac and Insane Woman. Following the controversy surrounding his The Raft of the Medusa, Géricault fell into a depression. In return for help by psychiatrist Étienne-Jean Georget, Géricault offered him a series of paintings of mental patients, including this one, in a time when the scientific world was curious about the minds of the mentally insane. A solid example of romanticism, Géricault's portrait of a mental asylum patient attempts to show a specific form of insanity through facial expression.

The French Restoration style was predominantly Neoclassicism, though it also showed the beginnings of romanticism in music and literature. The term describes the arts, architecture, and decorative arts of the Bourbon Restoration period (1814–1830), during the reign of Louis XVIII and Charles X from the fall of Napoleon to the July Revolution of 1830 and the beginning of the reign of Louis-Philippe.

References

  1. 1 2 See ( Eitner 1987 ), p. 1.
  2. 1 2 3 Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain :  Gilman, D. C.; Peck, H. T.; Colby, F. M., eds. (1906). "Géricault, Jean-Louis André Théodore"  . New International Encyclopedia (1st ed.). New York: Dodd, Mead.
  3. 1 2 See ( Eitner 1987 ), p. 2.
  4. See ( Eitner 1987 ), p. 3.
  5. 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.
  6. See ( Eitner 1987 ), pp. 3–4.
  7. See ( Eitner 1987 ), p. 4.
  8. See ( Riding 2003 ), 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".
  9. See ( Riding 2003 ), p. 77.
  10. See ( Eitner 1987 ), p. 5.
  11. See ( Eitner 1987 ), pp. 5–6.
  12. Patrick Noon: Crossing the Channel, page 162. Tate Publishing Ltd, 2003.
  13. Constable to Delacroix Tate Britain 2003 exhibition. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
  14. See ( Eitner 1987 ), p. 6.
  15. "Riderless Racers in Rome". The Walters Art Museum.

Works Cited

Further reading