Géricault was educated in the tradition of English sporting art by Claude Vernet and classicist figure composition by Pierre Guérin. His first major work, The Charging Chasseur (1812), revealed influences of the style of Peter Paul Rubens and an interest in the depiction of contemporary subject matter. A trip to Florence and Rome (1816-17) gave Géricault a fascination with both Michelangelo and Baroque art. Many of his works would share the military themes of his early paintings, and his series of lithographs on military subjects that he created after his return from Italy are considered some of the earlist masterworks in that medium. His most important work by far was The Raft of the Medusa (1819), which depicts the aftermath of a contemporary French shipwreck in which the incompetent captain had left the rest of the crew to die. The classical structure of the figures and composition is juxtaposed with the turbulence of the scene and creates an important bridge between the styles of neo-classicism and romanticism. The painting was unsuccessful in France, so he took it to England in 1820, where it received much praise. Upon his return to France, he was inspired to paint a series of portraits of the insane, with each subject exhibiting a different affliction. Weakened by riding accidents and chronic tubercualr infection, he died in Paris in 1824 after a long period of suffering.
Categories: 1791 births | 1824 deaths | French painters | Romantic art | Romanticism
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