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Jean-Louis-André-Théodore Géricault

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Jean-Louis-André-Théodore Géricault
19th century
(Rouen, 1791 - 1824, Paris)

Jean-Louis-André-Thèodore Géricault, one of the great artists of the 19th century, is best known for his grand-scale, energetic and painterly representations of contemporary subjects. Primarily self-taught, the young Romantic was inspired by the works of great masters hanging in the Musée de Louvre, particularly those of Titian, Velázquez, Rubens and Rembrandt––painters generally out of favor at the time. With the exception of a foray into the official style of a late Neoclassicism around 1815-16, Géricault devoted himself entirely to new subjects, from Napoleonic battles and scenes of everyday life, to interpretations of Romantic literature and original, fictive scenes. This enthusiasm for fresh subject matter and unfashionable painterliness was at the heart of the Romantic Movement. A master of oil and brush, Géricault was also the first master of lithography. Upon his return to Paris in 1822, Géricault, then in ill health, continued to prefer lithographic projects to grand paintings. He produced Études de Chevaux après Nature [Studies of Horses from Nature]––reflecting his love of horses––as well as several interpretations of poems by Lord Byron. While prompted by economic need, these late works demonstrate ever greater command of the medium: their extraordinary sensitivity of line, modulation of tone, and differentiation of texture reveal him as the first master of the medium. By the time of his death in January of 1824, he had created almost 100 lithographic stones in less than seven years.

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