Théodore Gericault (artist)|
French, 1791 - 1824
Mounted Trumpeters of Napoleon's Imperial Guard, 1813/1814
oil on canvas
overall: 60.4 x 49.6 cm (23 3/4 x 19 1/2 in.) framed: 76.8 x 66 cm (30 1/4 x 26 in.)
Chester Dale Fund
Object 1 of 7
This small canvas is one of a series of cavalrymen Géricault painted between 1812 and 1814. It is difficult to categorize Géricault's horsemen: neither true portraits nor genre scenes, they are more finished than studies yet not fully independent works. They convey the romantic excitement of battle and the glamour of military uniforms in the Napoleonic era. Géricault studied his subjects -- and they are more often trumpeters than soldiers -- with precision. The heroism of French expansion throughout Europe was soon reduced to disillusion and despair as the allied opposition gained the upper hand in 1814.
Here Géricault seems to have been preoccupied in the painting itself, in a lively handling of pigments and the working out of his design. Notice the soft spots of color on the center horse's muzzle and the long, rippling streaks in its tail. This painting shows the influence of the Flemish and Italian artists he was copying in the Louvre. Géricault's trumpeter and his mount reflect elements taken from Rubens and Van Dyck. The energetic styles of these baroque artists and their emphasis of color were well matched to a sensibility that valued inspiration and emotion.
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