Théodore Géricault

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.

Théodore Géricault
Horace Vernet, Jean-Louis-André-Théodore Gericault, probably 1822 or 1823, 1998.84, MET
Théodore Géricault by Horace Vernet, circa 1822–1823
Born26 September 1791
Rouen, Normandy, France
Died26 January 1824 (aged 32)
Paris, France
Known forPainting, Lithography
Notable work
The Raft of the Medusa

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.

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]


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]

Théodore Gericault - Head of a Youth - Google Art Project
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.

The Raft of the Medusa

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 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.


Busto de Negro - Théodore Géricault.jpeg

Bust of a Black Man, 1808 (Ajuda National Palace)


Wounded Cuirassier Leaving the Field of Battle, 1814

Gericault tete

Horse Head, 1815

Théodore Géricault - Riderless Racers at Rome - Walters 37189

Riderless Racers in Rome, 1817 (The Walters Art Museum[15])

Théodore Géricault cavalo bravo

The Capture of a Wild Horse, 1817


Portrait of Laure Bro, 1818

Jean Louis André Théodore Géricault - Portrait of a Young Man - 2001.280 - Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Portrait of a young man 1818

Théodore Géricault - Heroic Landscape with Fishermen - WGA08629

Heroic Landscape with Fishermen, 1818

Gericault Theodore 1819-20 Portrait eines Jungen mit langem blonden Haar

Portrait Study of a Youth, ca. 1818–1820

Jean Louis Théodore Géricault 011

Horse in the Storm, 1820–1821

Jean Louis Théodore Géricault 001

The Derby of Epsom, 1821

Théodore Géricault - The Kiss - WGA08647

The Kiss, charcoal, sepia wash and white gouache on paper, ca. 1822


White Arabian Horse, before 1824

"Les Monomanes" (Portraits of the Insane)


Man Suffering from Delusions of Military Rank, 1822 (Collection Oskar Reinhart am Römerholz, Winterthur)

Le Monomane du vol d'enfants (Gericault, 1822-1823)

A kidnapper, 1822–1823 (Museum of Fine Arts, Springfield, Massachusetts)


  1. ^ a b See (Eitner 1987), p. 1.
  2. ^ a b c Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainGilman, 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. ^ a b 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

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

Further reading

External links

1819 in art

Events in the year 1819 in Art.

Alexandre-Marie Colin

Alexandre-Marie Colin, a French painter of historical and genre subjects, was born in Paris in 1798. He was a pupil of Girodet. His religious and historical paintings are characterised by a style based on a careful study of the old masters, while his genre pieces are vigorous and lifelike. Amongst these latter may be noticed his 'French Fish-Market' (1832) in the Berlin Gallery, and his 'Gipsies Resting.' Amongst the former may be named a 'Christopher Columbus,' a 'Flight into Egypt,' and an 'Assumption of the Virgin.' He died in 1875.

Am Römerholz

The Reinhart Collection formed by Oskar Reinhart is now held in a museum in his old house, "Am Römerholz" in Winterthur, Zurich Canton, Switzerland, as well as the Museum Oskar Reinhart in the centre of Winterthur. It belongs to the Swiss Confederation, Federal Office of Culture (Bundesamt für Kultur, Bern).

The collection owns paintings by artists including Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Eduard Manet, Paul Cézanne, Eugène Delacroix, Théodore Géricault, Camille Corot, Honoré Daumier, Jean-François Millet, Gustave Courbet, Edgar Degas, Camille Pissarro, Alfred Sisley, Matthias Grünewald, Lukas Cranach, Vincent Van Gogh (two paintings of the Hospital in Arles - ward and garden) and Pieter Breughel the Elder (The Adoration of the Magi in the Snow).

The villa is building of 1915, designed by Maurice Turrettini.

Antoine Étex

Antoine Étex (March 20, 1808 Paris – July 14, 1888 Chaville) was a French sculptor, painter and architect.

He first exhibited in the Paris Salon of 1833, his work including a reproduction in marble of his Death of Hyacinthus, and the plaster cast of his Cain and His Race Cursed By God. Adolphe Thiers, who was at this time minister of public works, now commissioned him to execute the two groups of Peace and War, flanking the arch on the east facade of the Arc de Triomphe. This last, which established his reputation, he reproduced in marble in the Paris Salon of 1839.The French capital contains numerous examples of the sculptural works of Étex, which included mythological and religious subjects besides a great number of portraits. Among the best known of his architectural productions is Étex's tomb of Théodore Géricault in Père Lachaise Cemetery, which includes a bronze figure of the painter, and a low-relief version the painter's controversial Raft of the Medusa on a front panel.Étex's paintings include the subjects of Eurydice and the martyrdom of Saint Sebastian, and he also wrote a number of essays on subjects connected with the arts. The last year of his life was spent at Nice, and he died at Chaville, Seine-et-Oise in 1888. He was buried in the Cimetière du Montparnasse in Paris.

Das Floß der Medusa

Das Floß der Medusa (The Raft of the Medusa) is an oratorio by the German composer Hans Werner Henze. It is regarded as a seminal work in the composer's political alignment with left-wing politics.

Henze wrote it as a Requiem for Che Guevara, and set it to a text by Ernst Schnabel. It tells the story of the French frigate Meduse, which ran aground off the west coast of Africa in 1816, an ignominious episode in French political and maritime history, immortalised by the painting of the same name by Théodore Géricault. The work employs a large orchestra, a speaker, a soprano, a baritone, and choruses. In the course of a performance, the chorus members move from left side of the stage, "the Side of the Living", to the right side, "the Side of the Dead". The text is principally in German, with the addition of passages in Italian drawn from Dante's Divina Comedia sung by some of the dead. Aside from the dedication, and one possible musical reference to a popular leftist slogan chant of the 1960s, "there's very little else in the text or music arouse political emotions", wrote one critic. She thought the work "expertly put together, scintillating in its scoring and at [its] best moments ... a superheated, expressionist narrative."

Flemish Art Collection

The Flemish Art Collection (Dutch: Vlaamse kunstcollectie) is a consortium or partnership between three museums in Flanders, Belgium: the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp, the Groeningemuseum in Bruges, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Ghent.The Groeningemuseum specialises in the 15th and 16th century Early Netherlandish period and contains a number of works by Jan van Eyck, Dirk Bouts, Gerard David and Hieronymus Bosch, the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in the baroque, including works by Peter Paul Rubens and Anthony van Dyck while the Museum of Fine Arts, Ghent focuses on 19th century art, including of Théodore Géricault, Gustave Courbet and Auguste Rodin.

The body is responsible for publishing the comprehensive website / database vlaamseprimitieven, which, since 2011, catalogs writings and images related to the Flemish Primitives.

Insane Woman (La Monomane de l'envie)

Insane Woman is an 1822 oil on canvas painting by Théodore Géricault in a series of work Géricault did on the mentally ill. It is housed in the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon, France.

Mental aberration and irrational states of mind could not fail to interest artists against Enlightenment rationality. Géricault, like many of his contemporaries, examined the influence of mental states on the human face and shared the belief, common in his time, that a face more accurately revealed character, especially in madness and at the moment of death. He made many studies of the inmates in hospitals and institutions for the criminally insane, and he studied the heads of guillotine victims.

Géricault's Insane Woman, her mouth tense, her eyes red-rimmed with suffering, is one of several portraits he made of the mentally ill that have a peculiar hypnotic power. These portraits present the physical facts with astonishing authenticity, especially in contrast to earlier idealized commissioned portraiture.

La Semaine Sainte

La Semaine Sainte is an historical novel by French writer Louis Aragon published in 1958. It sold over 100,000 copies.

An English translation by Haakon Chevalier was published in 1961 under the title Holy Week by Hamish Hamilton, London, to mixed reviews:

"It is a very bad book, so bad that one doesn't want to write about it, and if it weren't by Aragon, France's according-to-blurb "leading poet-novelist", one wouldn't....The translation, incidentally, is execrable throughout.""Although the novel lacks the warmth of War and Peace and never makes us care very deeply for any of the characters, it displays a splendid range of intellectual understanding. The only recent book worthy to be compared with this tremendous panorama is Dr. Zhivago. M. Aragon's vision seems to me no less poetic than Pasternak's, and his technique as a novelist is far superior."The book covers the week of 19 to 26 March 1815, when Napoleon Bonaparte, after escaping from captivity on the island of Elba, sought to regain power from the French King Louis XVIII. The main character in the novel, the painter Théodore Géricault, who has renounced his artistic career for a military one, accompanies the king on his flight from Paris, but as the king continues to flee across the frontier into Belgium, Géricault begins to have doubts about his own loyalties and the implications of his potential choices.

The novel begins with a strange 'Author's Note': "This is not a historical novel. Any resemblance to persons who have lived, any similarity in names, places, details, can be an effect only of pure coincidence, and the Author declines responsibility for this in the name of the Inalienable Rights of the Imagination". Yet is it very definitely an historical novel, using real persons and real incidents, including the author himself and events in his own life, as well as those invented by the author's imagination.

The novel is rich in history, blending real persons and events with fictional ones. It swaps back and forth between characters, portraying their divided loyalties, and the confusion of the period. All the characters need to make a decision sooner or later as to which side to support, and what action to take: to run or fight, to run for England or Belgium, to fight for the king or for Napoleon, to save themselves, their possessions, their livelihoods or their country. Their emotions, past histories, and present fears are recreated well.

Aragon does not simply tell a simple narrative. Many of the characters have flashbacks, and even flashforwards (such as that which details the mysterious death by defenestration of Marshal Berthier in June 1815), that are introduced suddenly, without warning or introduction. Likewise, Aragon manifests himself in the novel by directly addressing the reader as himself in several digressions: he recalls his own experiences during the French occupation of Germany in 1919, during the German invasion of France in 1940, his (and his wife's) experiences and memories of Bamberg. Less personally, after describing a royalist officer raping a peasant girl, he discusses his reasons for not naming the soldier, describing the progeny of the soldier down to the present day, and explaining that he does not wish to shame the present, real, family descended from this soldier.

As part of the narrative, Aragon also discusses the political and economic policies of both Napoleon and Louis XVIII reminding the reader that the decision of whom to support was not black and white. Napoleon was liberal and forward thinking with regard to agricultural and industrial development, but his constant conscription of workers and peasants into his armies had stripped many villages of their male workforce, who returned crippled, if at all, and his wars had reduced opportunities for trade, particularly with England, destroying the industries he otherwise tried to develop. In contrast, the king's reactionary policies and the return of the aristocracy after Napoleon' exile had embittered the peasantry, but at least there were jobs and stability and peace and trade. Napoleon's return threatened new upheavals, not only within France, but also the possibility of invasion by forces from Prussia, Russia, Austria and England. How each character, historic or fictitious, reacts to these contradictions and dilemmas forms the meat of the novel. The novel ends with Théodore Géricault seeing no point in dying either for a crippled king who has fled the country, nor for supporting Napoleon and his imperial police state. Having seen the royal family across the frontier into Belgium, he feels his duty is completed and he decides to return as anonymously as possible to Paris and his former artistic career.

Le Radeau de la Méduse (film)

Le Radeau de la Méduse (English: The Raft of the Medusa) 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.

Napoléon on the Battlefield of Eylau

Napoléon on the Battlefield of Eylau (French: Napoléon sur le champ de bataille d'Eylau) is an oil painting of 1808 by French Romantic painter Antoine-Jean Gros. Completed during the winter of 1807–1808, the work became an icon of the emerging style of French Romanticism. It depicts a moment from the aftermath of the bloody Battle of Eylau (7–8 February 1807) in which Napoléon Bonaparte surveys the battlefield where his Grande Armée secured a costly victory against the Russians. Although Napoleon on the Battlefield of Eylau retains elements of history painting, it is by far Gros's most realistic work depicting Napoleon and breaks from the subtlety of Neoclassicism. The painting's influence can be seen in the works of artists like Théodore Géricault and Eugène Delacroix.

Pierre-Paul Prud'hon

Pierre-Paul Prud'hon (April 4, 1758 – February 16, 1823) was a French Romantic painter and draughtsman best known for his allegorical paintings and portraits such as Madame Georges Anthony and Her Two Sons (1796). Notably, he painted a portrait of each of Napoleon's two wives.

He was an early influence on Théodore Géricault.

Portrait of a Kleptomaniac

Portrait of a Kleptomaniac or Portrait of an Insane Person (French : L'Aliéné or Le Kleptomane) 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.

Rudolf Koller

Rudolf Koller (21 May 1828 – 5 January 1905) was a Swiss painter. He is associated with a realist and classicist style, and also with the essentially romantic Düsseldorf school of painting. Koller's style is similar to that of the realist painters Gustave Courbet and Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot. Considered Switzerland's finest animal painter, Koller is rated alongside George Stubbs, Rosa Bonheur and Théodore Géricault.

While his reputation was based on his paintings of animals, he was a sensitive and innovative artist whose well-composed works in the "plein air" tradition, including Swiss mountain landscapes, are just as finely executed.He has been described as "the painter of the Swiss national animal", because of his paintings of cows in Swiss landscapes.

He is considered, along with Frank Buchser and Gustave Eugène Castan, to be one of the most important Swiss painters of the 19th century. The Gotthardpost, or The St Gotthard Mailcoach, is one of his most famous paintings. It depicts a mail coach, drawn by white horses, speeding along a mountain road.

The 1821 Derby at Epsom

The 1821 Derby at Epsom, or Horse Race (Course de chevaux, traditionally called Le Derby de 1821 à Epsom) is an 1821 painting by Théodore Géricault in the Louvre Museum, showing The Derby of that year.

Fascinated by the horses, Géricault made many paintings portraying them. Working for a while at the imperial stables, he had the opportunity to study in detail and made numerous portraits of horses. This work is not related to that series of portraits but it illustrates a similar theme horses, as the artist has done many times, such as in Officer Hunter Horse of the Imperial Guard Charging in 1812 or Race of Free Horses in Rome in 1819.This work is a rare and valuable example of painting dated from his travel in England, when Géricault preferred to work in lithography. He painted this painting for the English horse dealer Adam Elmore. The painting was acquired by the Musée du Louvre in 1866. The position of the horses' legs in the painting - with both front and hind legs extended outwards - is never actually exhibited by a galloping horse. This was discovered by Eadweard Muybridge in 1878.

The Charging Chasseur

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.

The painting was Géricault's first exhibited work and it is an example of Géricault's attempt to condense both movement and structure in its art. it represents French romanticism and has a motif similar to Jacques-Louis David's Napoleon Crossing the Alps, but non-classical characteristics of the picture include its dramatic diagonal arrangement and vigorous paint handling.

In The Charging Chasseur, the horse appears to be rearing away from an unseen attacker. The turning figure on a rearing horse is derived from the large early Rubens Saint George (Museo del Prado, 1605–07), though there the view is from the side.

Géricault would continue to move away from classicism, as exemplified in his later masterpiece The Raft of the Medusa (1818–19).

The Divinity of Oceans

The Divinity of Oceans is the second album by the German funeral doom metal band Ahab. This album was also released through Napalm Records, like their previous releases were.The album's cover was taken from the famous painting The Raft of the Medusa, by French Romantic painter Théodore Géricault.

The Raft of the Medusa

The Raft of the Medusa (French: Le Radeau de la Méduse [lə ʁado d(ə) la medyz]) – originally titled Scène de Naufrage (Shipwreck Scene) – 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 (16' 1" × 23' 6"), 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.

Géricault chose to depict this event in order to launch his career with a large-scale uncommissioned work on a subject that had already generated great public interest. The event fascinated him, and before he began work on the final painting, he undertook extensive research and produced many preparatory sketches. He interviewed two of the survivors and constructed a detailed scale model of the raft. He visited hospitals and morgues where he could view, first-hand, the colour and texture of the flesh of the dying and dead. As he had anticipated, the painting proved highly controversial at its first appearance in the 1819 Paris Salon, attracting passionate praise and condemnation in equal measure. However, it established his international reputation, and today is widely seen as seminal in the early history of the Romantic movement in French painting.

Although The Raft of the Medusa retains elements of the traditions of history painting, in both its choice of subject matter and its dramatic presentation, it represents a break from the calm and order of the prevailing Neoclassical school. Géricault's work attracted wide attention from its first showing and was then exhibited in London. The Louvre acquired it soon after the artist's death at the age of 32. The painting's influence can be seen in the works of Eugène Delacroix, J. M. W. Turner, Gustave Courbet, and Édouard Manet.

The Woman with a Gambling Mania

The Woman with Gambling Mania (French: La Folle Monomane du jeu) 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.This painting was acquired by the Louvre in 1938.

The Wounded Cuirassier

The Wounded Cuirassier (French: Le Cuirassier blessé quittant le feu) 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.The two known copies of the painting are at the Musée du Louvre and at the Brooklyn Museum.

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