Study for the father in the Raft of the Medusa ( recto ); Two studies for the figure seated at the foot of the mast ( verso )
- Listed: January 1, 1970 12:00 am
- Title: Study for the father in the Raft of the Medusa ( recto ); Two studies for the figure seated at the foot of the mast ( verso )
- Artist: Jean-Louis-André-Théodore Géricault
- Format (cm): 24.4 x 34 cm.
- Format (in): 9 7/8 x 13¼ in.
- Last Sale price: 662 500,00
- Last Sale date:
Jean-Louis-André-Théodore Géricault (Rouen 1791-1824 Paris) Study for the father in the Raft of the Medusa ( recto ); Two studies for the figure seated at the foot of the mast ( verso ) black chalk and pencil 9 7/8 x 13¼ in. (24.4 x 34 cm.)
François Marcille, thence by descent to his son; Camille Marcille, Drouot, Paris, 8-9 March 1876, lot 81 (27 Fr. to baron de Laage). René Longa, Paris. P.-O. Dubaut (L.2103b).
C. Blanc, Histoire des peintres français au XIX siècle , I, Paris, 1845, p. 440. C. Clément, ‘Catalogue de l’oeuvre de Géricault’, Gazette des Beaux-Arts , October 1867, no. 107. C. Clément, Géricault: étude biographique et critique avec le catalogue raisonné de l’oeuvre du maître, Paris, 1868 and 1879, no. 120. L. Eitner, Géricault’s Raft of the Medusa , London, 1972, p. 158, no. 50, fig. 44. L. Eitner, Supplément , Paris, 1973, p. 466, no. 120. L. Johnson, ‘La Grosse Suzanne, Uncovered’, The Burlington Magazine , April 1981, p. 221, note 8. G. Bazin, Géricault: étude critique, documents et catalogue raisonné , Paris, 1994, VI, pp. 23, 129, no. 1996. B. Chenique, Géricault: au coeur de la création romantique. Etudes pour le Radeau de la Méduse , exhib. cat., Clermont-Ferrand, Musée d’art Roger-Quilliot, 2012, figs. 9 ( verso ) and 15 ( recto ).
Paris, Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Géricault , 1937, no. 129. Paris, Galerie Eugène Bignou, Géricault , 1950, no. 46. London, Marlborough Galleries, Géricault , 1952, no. 50, pl. XII. Winterthur, Kunstmuseum, Géricault , 1953, no. 176. Recklinghausen, Kunsthalle, Idee und Vollendung , 1962, no. 20d. Paris, Galerie Aubry, Géricault , 1964, no. 69. New York, Pierpont Morgan Library, and elsewhere, Master Drawings by Géricault , 1985-86, no. 76r. Paris, Grand Palais, Géricault , 1991, no. 205, figs. 255 ( recto ) and 261 ( verso ). Lyon, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Géricault: La folie d’un monde , 2006, no. 83, fig. 101.
Géricault’s Raft of the Medusa (fig. 1), now in the Louvre, is an icon of 19th Century art. Painted and first exhibited in 1819, it depicts the rescue of passengers and crew members of the French frigate Medusa which sank off the coast of North Africa in 1816. The shipwreck, its ensuing cover-up by the government and the subsequent scandal when all the events came to light received enormous attention in France. At the same moment, a young artist was searching for a suitable subject for the modern masterpiece he was intent on creating. With the Raft of the Medusa Géricault found a subject that conformed with his epic vision both of himself as an artist and modern French painting. SHIPWRECK AND SCANDAL The Medusa was carrying almost four hundred French soldiers and settlers headed for Senegal to establish a colony in the summer of 1816. The crew and passengers reflected the fractured state of French society at the time. The captain, Hugues Duroys de Chamareys, was a royalist who had not manned a ship in two decades, and many of the crew members serving under him were formerly in Napoleon’s navy. Passengers also came from royalist and republican backgrounds, and there were Italians, Africans and Turks on board. On 2 July the boat was shipwrecked, the blame lying with its incompetent captain Chamareys. The evacuation of the ship on 5 July was chaotic and there were not enough lifeboats. In addition, the captain along with Colonel Julien Schmaltz, the future governor of Senegal, abandoned ship before everyone else on board had got off. About 150 passengers were left on a makeshift raft composed of the wreckage of the frigate which was then tethered to the lifeboats. The passengers and crew on the lifeboats soon cut the raft free, fearing they would sink if more people came on board, and the ‘Raft of the Medusa’ was left adrift at sea for thirteen days. The carnage and mayhem that ensued and was later described by the survivors was unimaginable. The dwindling number to remain alive suffered from hunger, thirst, exposure and delirium. Mutiny was followed by murder, and by the
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