Théodore Géricault (September 26, 1791 — January 26, 1824) was a profoundly influential French artist, painter and lithographer, known for The Raft of the Medusa and other paintings. Although he died young, he became one of the pioneers of the Romantic movement. 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, but recognized his talent.
His 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. He exhibited Wounded Cuirassier at the Salon in 1814, a work more labored and less well received. In the nearly two years that followed he underwent a self-imposed study of figure construction and composition, all the while evidencing a personal predilection for drama and expressive force.
Gericault 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 (1819), 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. It surely excited the imagination of the young Eugène Delacroix, who posed for one of the dying figures.
The classical depiction of the figures and structure of the composition stand in contrast to the turbulence of the subject, and creates an important bridge between the styles of neo-classicism and romanticism. The painting 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.
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.
Here we have a original etching and aquatint “Triumph of Silenus ” Concieved by Gericault and published in Paris in 1889 by " Les Lettres et les Arts." This is a very nice impression of this Gericault print on watermarked wove paper. Size: 6 x 8 inches (image) of a very small limited edition.