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Artists Théodore Géricault
Théodore Géricault Photo

Théodore Géricault

French Painter

Movement: Romanticism

Born: September 26, 1791 - Rouen, France

Died: January 26, 1824 - Paris, France

Théodore Géricault Timeline

Quotes

"Now I wanted and get constantly lost. It is in vain that I seek to hold on to something; nothing is solid, everything escapes me, everything deceives me. Our hopes and our remains are, down here, only vain chimeras, and our successes mere ghosts that we think we have grasped. If there is something certain for us on earth, it is our sufferings. Suffering is real, pleasures are only imaginary."
Théodore Géricault
"With the brush we merely tint, while the imagination alone produces color."
Théodore Géricault
"Is it not dangerous to have students study together for years, copying the same models and approximately the same path?"
Théodore Géricault

"The truly gifted individual does not fear obstacles, because he knows that he can surmount them; indeed they often are an additional asset; the fever they are able to excite in his soul is not lost; it even often becomes the cause of the most astonishing productions."

Théodore Géricault Signature

Synopsis

Géricault's short career had a huge impact on the history of modern art and the evolution of French 19th century painting in particular. His radical choice of subjects taken from contemporary life, his fusion of classical forms with an atmospheric, painterly style, his passion for horses, his attraction to sublime and horrific subjects, and his compassion for the weak and vulnerable in society make him a singularly complex artist, but one who helped set the path for Romanticism's emphasis on emotion and subjectivity. His most famous work, The Raft of the Medusa, was a watershed moment in the history of modern art, as it married the immediacy of current events and an eyewitness sensibility with the traditional, monumental format of a grand Salon painting. Much of Gericault's work relied on keen observation, social awareness and at times a politically engaged view of the world around him. Indeed, a unique combination of realism and raw emotion can be seen in many of his works, including the late series of monomaniacs and his earlier "portraits" of guillotined heads.

Key Ideas

Gericault's art was utterly contemporary in its attention to current events and the realities of the human condition. He depicted dramatic scenes from real life on a monumental scale and found inspiration as a draughtsman in the most humble subjects. This can be seen in his colossal canvas, The Raft of the Medusa, his lithographs of London's poor and his late portraits of the criminally insane.
Though he absorbed the lessons of the Old Masters - Michelangelo was particularly important - Géricault's use of brisk, energetic brushstrokes and contrasting light effects created atmospheric scenes which broke free from the refined Néoclassical style of painting.
Much of Gericault's art typifies what we now think of as Romantic, with its attention to the exotic, the emotional, and the sublime. This can be seen in part as a reaction to the earlier Neoclassicism of David and Ingres, which embodied Enlightenment values of order and reason. With Gericault, the individual artist's subjective, emotional response is what counts, a concept that would carry forward into the 20th century.

Biography

Théodore Géricault Photo

Childhood and Education

Jean-Louis-André-Théodore Géricault was the only child of wealthy, conservative parents. His father was a lawyer and his mother's family were tobacco growers. When he was four his family moved to Paris, which allowed Géricault to be educated in the most prestigious schools. At age fifteen, his drawing talent was recognized and he began to seriously study art.

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Théodore Géricault Biography Continues

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Théodore Géricault
Interactive chart with Théodore Géricault's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart

Artists

MichelangeloMichelangelo
CaravaggioCaravaggio
Francisco GoyaFrancisco Goya
Pierre-Narcisse Guérin
Anne-Louis Girodet

Personal Contacts

Laurent-Théodore Biett
James William Bullock
Pierre-Marie-Alexandre Dumoutier

Movements

Classical ArtClassical Art
Pre-Romanticism
NeoclassicismNeoclassicism

Influences on Artist
Théodore Géricault
Théodore Géricault
Years Worked: 1808 - 1824
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Eugène DelacroixEugène Delacroix
Léon Riesener
Ary Scheffer
J.M.W. TurnerJ.M.W. Turner
Max ErnstMax Ernst

Personal Contacts

James William Bullock
Charles Clément
Théodore Lebrun
Louis Viardot

Movements

RomanticismRomanticism
RealismRealism

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Content compiled and written by Jessica DiPalma

Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Jessica DiPalma
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
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