Théodore Géricault

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Géricault, Théodore


Born Sept. 26, 1791, in Rouen; died Jan. 26, 1824, in Paris. French painter and graphic artist.

Géricault studied with C. Vernet (1808-10) and P. Guérin (1810-11) and was influenced by A. Gros. Although he retained classical art’s predilection for generalized heroic images, Géricault was the first French artist to express the essence of romanticism—an acute awareness of the conflicts in the world and a striving to embody in his works extraordi-nary contemporary events and strong passions. Even his first works were distinguished by their highly emotional images and dynamic composition and color, with the dominant dark tone made more lively by intense color accents and strong impasto brush strokes. They reflected the turbulence of the Napoleonic wars, with their desperate bravado (Officer of the Imperial Guard, 1812, the Louvre), as well as a sense of bewilderment and tragic ending (The Wounded Cuiraissier, 1814, the Louvre). During his travels in Italy (1816-17), Gericault was influenced by classic art, particularly Michelangelo. The images in his works became more generalized and monumental, their delineation clearer (The Run of Free Horses at Rome, 1817, the Louvre).

One of Gericault’s masterpieces and a major romantic painting is the Raft of the Medusa (1818-19, the Louvre), which depicts an extremely topical subject—the tragic fate of most of the passengers of the frigate Medusa, who perished on a raft in the ocean through the government’s fault. The painting had great social impact. Endowing an accident with symbolic meaning, Gericault reveals the complex spectrum of human feelings—from dark despair to an explosive burst of hope. The dynamics of the huge canvas is determined by the diagonal composition, the energetic modeling of powerful spaces, and the tense contrasts of light and dark.

The Portrait of Delacroix at Twenty (c. 1819, Museum of Fine Arts and Ceramics, Rouen) and the self-portraits ex-press Géricault’s view of a romantic artist as an independent emotional personality. The objective portraits of the insane (c. 1822), which depict the destructive influence of passions, reflect the artist’s genuine humanism.

Géricault was impressed by the unique outlook and customs of England, where he traveled between 1820 and 1821. In rich, subtly colored paintings and watercolors and in lithographs (the Great and Small English Series, 1820-21) he painted scenes of the people’s way of life, showing social contrasts with pitiless truthfulness, as well as scenes of horse races (The Derby at Epsom, 1821, the Louvre). In the severe, lonely Kiln (1822, the Louvre), the motif of a humdrum life is the pretext for a romantically intense embodiment of the world’s materiality. Géricault was one of the pioneers of lithography. Some of his sculptures have also been preserved.


Zheriko o sebe i sovremenniki o nem. Moscow, 1962. (Translated from French.)
Prokofev, V. N. Teodor Zheriko. Moscow, 1963.
Berger, K. Gericault et son oeuvre. Paris, 1968.


References in periodicals archive ?
Theodore Gericault has not quite lived up to his early-season promise, but this previous allweather scorer has done enough to suggest the transition to just shy of a mile and a half would be very much the way forward in the Follow Us On Twitter @ BetVictor handicap.
In feature-length documentary Treasures of the Louvre (BBC Four, 9pm), he travels through a place filled with remarkable art, and considers the masterpieces of artists such as Veronese, Rubens, David, Chardin, Gericault and Delacroix.
Thereafter, Victor Hugo, who was influenced by Byron, continued the theme in Les orientales (1829), and the painters Gericault, Delacroix, and Vernet created canvases depicting it, while Liszt wrote his famous symphonic poem about it.
He makes his sketches of the barricades: there at the top: the fallen, some of them are hardly more than boys; or let us say Gericault, who painted saddle horses as regularly as some artists paint the sea, suddenly, on Reality's back roads, sees he has been abandoned with the troops in the retreat--Moscow inflames not even visible in the background, only snow, the trackless snowdrifts stretching on for leagues, the details of the soldiers' bodies sticking up through the snow, cheek stubble, arms and kitbags.
But Gericault merits only a single sentence in the book, his art dismissed as "done in an elegiac mood, lamenting the end of Napoleonic glory.
Gericault who on 27th December 1821 returned to Paris from England, where he had absorbed the work of Byron, was the first to respond.
Like "The Raft of the Medusa" by Gericault or "The Sabine Women" by Jacques Louis David, these paintings depict gruesome moments in time by those who survived and wish for others to see those who have died so they can live.
It links him to Leonardo da Vinci, Theodore Gericault, and other European Old Masters, whose preoccupation with the body drew them to extensive anatomical study.
If the painting of moving subjects may be regarded as a distant chapter in cinema's prehistory, the Roman Carnival's riderless horse race deserves mentioning, for the early Romantic painter Theodore Gericault intended to paint it in a canvas of over 30 feet in width.
For inspiration she turned instead to the Parthenon friezes and the romantic paintings of horses by Theodore Gericault and Eugene Delacroix.
1267-1337), Michelangelo (1475-1564) and Bosch through to Goya (1746-1828), Fuseli (1741-1825), William Blake (1757-1821), Gericault (1791-1824), Delacroix (1789-1863), Moreau (1826-98), Redon (1840-1916) and Arnold Bocklin (1827-1901), to name but a few, spanned the period from the Renaissance to the nineteenth century with works that depicted the devil and a myriad of other creatures.
Representing a wide range of artistic schools, the selection includes works by famous artists--such as Vittore Carpaccio, Raffaello Sanzi (known as Raphael), Andrea del Sarto, Francesco Mazzola (known as Parmigianino), Rembrandt van Rijn, Giovanni Antonio Canal (known as Canaletto), Claude Lorrain, Jean-Antoine Watteau, Jean-Baptiste Simeon Chardin, Francois Boucher, Jean-Honore Fragonard, Francisco Jose de Goya, Theodore Gericault, Eugene Delacroix, Edouard Manet, Edward Burne-Jones, James Whistler, Edgar Degas, Paul Cezanne, Odilon Redon, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, and Georges Seurat--as well as superb and poignant drawings by lesser-known artists.