Who is... Th�odore G�ricault

The Raft of the Medusa  

Jean Louis Andr� Th�odore G�ricault is the ultimate personification of the troubled solitary genius of the romantic age. Born in Rouen in 1791, he studied art under Carle Vernet and Pierre Gu�rin at the Beaux-Arts.

He fled to Italy after an unhappy love affair but returned to Paris and in 1812 submitted a painting Officer of the Imperial Guard that was a synthesis of Rubenesque movement and lighting like Caravaggio. He joined the Bourbon musketeers and fought as a musketeer.

In 1819, he showed his greatest masterpiece, The Raft of Medusa. The painting was a recreation of a maritime disaster in 1816 where the frigate Medusa bound for Senegal sank near West Africa. The crew apparently left 150 survivors to their fate on a raft. When the raft was found only 15 had survived.In the painting G�ricault combines realism with romanticism using the model of a raft and studying dead bodies in the morgue.

The painting, considered a criticism of the government was not well received by the government in France but G�ricault took it in triumph to England where he lived in style for three years making countless sketches of horses. Passionately fond of horses, they were to be his downfall as he died after falling off a horse in 1812 at the age of 32. While a full-blown romantic, G�ricault's obsession for realism, prepared the ground for the Realistic movement.