THÉODORE
GÉRICAULT
(1791-1824)
 
T. Géricault: La Balsa de la Medusa, 1818.
T. Géricault:
Raft of Jellyfish, 1818.
(Detail)

  • A peculiar biography:
     
         It has always been said that Géricault represents temperamental Romanticism. He is the model for Romantic man that Stendhal proposed, the topical and typical romantic in a byronian way. He was born from a rich family, but he soon became an orphan, living an anxious life full of adventures. He spent a very short one, since he died when he was 33.

         We can include Géricault in Gros' school because of the dynamism of his use of a line close to Rubens's one, because of his color and epic subjects. His relations with painting is accidental: he became a painter since it was the best solution to his impulse. His learning was not regular. First lessons he received from a middling painter of battles were very simple. Then he learn in Guerin's workshop, where he finished his irregular education. From the beginning he showed his rebelliousness: he never obeyed rules. Although his teacher was liberal, he soon knew Géricalut's passion for excessive things and pasted touch of brush: all that revealed a strong temper.

         In 1816 he visited Italy, since he left his aunt pregnant and he was afraid at the outcomes of this forbidden love. It was absurd for him to come to competitions in Italy, because he never paid attention to rules. There, he was interested in popular horse races. He also beheld new ways of living: in a word, he was a flâneur. He was interested in observation rather than forma matters: that made him live without troubles.

         In Italy he was attracted by Sixtine Michelangello's paintings. He was also fascinated by Caravaggio. In 1820 Géricault visited London. There he spent more than a year and he discovered Constable's art and horse-painting by Stubbs. Passion for horses in Great Britain stimulated his art. Back in France ca 1821-1822 he became ill, maybe because of a bone cancer. He lived far from the world, showing a tragic and pessimistic vision of life. Therefore he evolutioned to scrawny subjects, painting portraits of ill people.

    Outstanding Works:
    T. Géricault: Húsar a caballo, c.1814. T. Géricault, Riding Husar, c.1814, oil on canvas, 349 x 266 cm, Louvre Museum, Paris.
    T. Géricault: La Balsa de la Medusa, 1818. T. Géricault, Raft of Jellyfish, c.1818, oil on canvas, 4´5 x 6´5 m, Louvre Museum, Paris.
    With Commentary
    T. Géricault: El derby de Epson, c.1821. T. Géricault, Epson Derby, c.1821, oil on canvas.
    T. Géricault: El cleptómano, c.1822. T. Géricault, Kleptomaniac, c.1822, oil on canvas, Museum of Arts, Gent.
    T. Géricault: Retrato de mujer loca, c.1822. T. Géricault, Portrait of Fool Woman, c.1822, oil on canvas, 77 x 65 cm, Louvre Museum, Paris.
    T. Géricault: Retrato de mujer loca, c.1822-1823. T. Géricault, Portrait of Fool Woman, c.1822-1823, oil on canvas.

    Written by:
    Beatriz Aragonés Escobar.
    Licentiate in Art History


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