Paris 1791 - Paris 1824
Early 19th century
Length: 34.5 cm. (13 ½ in.), Height: 11 cm. (4 ¼ in.)
PROVENANCE: André Salomon;
Private Collection, New York, until 2018.
FURTHER INFORMATION: A French painter of outstanding originality, Géricault was also a draughtsman, lithographer and sculptor and is usually regarded as one of the founders of the French Romantic School. He was born in Rouen but came to Paris as a boy and after studying for two years with Carle Vernet entered the studio of the academic painter Pierre-Narcisse Guérin, where Delacroix also studied. At the same time he made copies of the old masters in the Louvre and developed a passion for the art of Rubens. From his youth Géricault was particularly interested in horses and racing, and he developed a brilliant and rapid execution capturing vividly the sense of movement. During the eleven years of his tempestuous career, Géricault displayed many interests, from his series of portraits of the insane, painted around 1822, to his still-lives of the severed heads and limbs of criminals in the morgue. He showed a predilection for exuberant compositions, a fascination with the macabre, and an interest in modern subject matter. Only a handful of Géricault's sculptures have survived. Several exist in multiple versions and in various materials, such as the Flayed Horse in the National Gallery of Art, Washington which exists in wax and bronze. They range from classical mythological themes to modern subjects. Often their relationship to Gericault's two-dimensional oeuvre is unclear and the chronology of the sculpture is still debated. The works themselves are poorly documented and they seem to have never been publicly shown during the artist's lifetime. A. Schmoll gen. Eisenwerth published for the first time in 1973 a study on the small sculpture of the moribund. Only a handful of plasters of the Moribund are known: one is in the Wallraf Richartz Museum, Cologne, another in the Legion of Honor Museum, San Francisco. They are very likely to have been realised after a wax model made by the artist in preparation for the Raft of the Medusa (1819, Musée du Louvre, Paris). Drawings by Géricault show similar men lying with their face on the ground (Musée des Beaux-Arts, Rouen; Musée Bonnat, Bayonne; Lowell collection, Toronto).