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White Cat - Theodore Gericault - Framed Picture 16" x 12"


Jean-Louis Andre Theodore Gericault was an influential French painter and lithographer, known for The Raft of the Medusa and other paintings. Although he died young, he was one of the pioneers of the Romantic movement.

Gericault was educated in the tradition of English sporting art by Carle Vernet and classical figure composition by Pierre-Narcisse Guerin, a rigorous classicist who disapproved of his student's impulsive temperament while recognizing his talent.

Gericault soon left the classroom, choosing to study at the Louvre.

During this period at the Louvre he discovered a vitality he found lacking in the prevailing school of Neoclassicism. Much of his time was spent in Versailles, where he found the stables of the palace open to him, and where he gained his knowledge of the anatomy and action of horses.

A trip to Florence, Rome, and Naples, prompted in part by the desire to flee from a romantic entanglement with his aunt, ignited a fascination with Michelangelo.

Gericault continually returned to the military themes of his early paintings, and the series of lithographs he undertook on military subjects after his return from Italy are considered some of the earliest masterworks in that medium.

His most significant, and certainly most ambitious work, is The Raft of the Medusa, which depicted the aftermath of a contemporary French shipwreck, Meduse, in which the captain had left the crew and passengers to die. The incident became a national scandal, and Gericault's dramatic interpretation presented a contemporary tragedy on a monumental scale. The painting's notoriety stemmed from its indictment of a corrupt establishment, but it also dramatised a more eternal theme, that of man's struggle with nature. It surely excited the imagination of the young Eugene Delacroix, who posed for one of the dying figures.

The painting ignited political controversy when first exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1819; it then traveled to England in 1820, accompanied by Gericault himself, where it received much praise. While in London, Gericault witnessed urban poverty, made drawings of his impressions, and published lithographs based on these observations which were free of sentimentality.

After his return to France in 1821, Gericault was inspired to paint a series of ten portraits of the insane, the patients of a friend, Dr. etienne-Jean Georget, a pioneer in psychiatric medicine, with each subject exhibiting a different affliction.

The paintings are noteworthy for their bravura style, expressive realism, and for their documenting of the psychological discomfort of individuals, made all the more poignant by the history of insanity in Gericault's family, as well as the artist's own fragile mental health.

Gericault's last efforts were directed toward preliminary studies for several epic compositions, including the Opening of the Doors of the Spanish Inquisition and the African Slave Trade.

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