Overview

Between 1812 and 1814, while Napoleon's armies waged war across Europe, Théodore Gericault began a series of small canvases depicting Napoleonic cavalry officers. These paintings provided Gericault with the opportunity to explore two of the subjects that he loved best: the horse and the pomp of military life.

The Trumpeters of Napoleon's Imperial Guard is part of this series. Gericault does not portray an individual, but rather a romantic ideal of the dashing soldier. Though the depiction of the officers suggests actual portraits, the painting is an invention. The painting's composition is based upon strong visual contrasts. Gericault used short, rapid brushstrokes to define the central figures in the foreground while using broader, more sweeping strokes to create a neutral background. He further distinguished the figures from the background through his use of color. The background is in dark tones, while the figures are in warm, vibrant tones, that cause them to advance toward the viewer. The brightly colored parade uniform gives the painting a sensuous appeal and provides visual unity as it is repeated across the canvas. Produced during the height of war, the artist makes no reference to its hardships or defeat; instead he creates a romantic image of military grandeur.

Inscription

Marks and Labels

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Provenance

Édouard Napoléon César Edmond Mortier, duc de Trévise [1883-1946], by 1937;[1] (sale, Galerie Charpentier, Paris, 19 May 1938, no 25, bought in); given to his relative, probably Jean, Comte Budes de Guébriant [b. 1911], Buenos Aires;[2] sold to Francisco Gowland Llobet, Buenos Aires; on consignment 1971 to (Galerie Schmit, Paris); purchased 19 July 1972 by NGA.

Exhibition History

1937
Chefs-d'oeuvre de l'art français, Palais National des Arts, Paris, 1937, no. 335
1937
Gericault, peintre et dessinateur, Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Paris, 1937, no. 30
1938
Gros, Gericault, Delacroix, M. Knoedler & Co., New York, 1938, no. 21, repro.
1938
Les influences, Galerie Paul Rosenberg, Paris, 1938, no. 16.
1939
French Romantic Artists, San Francisco Museum of Art, 1939, no. 15
1939
Masterworks of Five Centuries, Golden Gate International Exhibition, San Francisco, 1939, no. 115, repro.
1940
An Exhibition of Great Paintings in Aid of the Canadian Red Cross and of Small Pictures by Members of the Ontario Society of Artists, Art Gallery of Toronto, 1940, no. 71.
1940
Masterpieces of Art. European & American Paintings 1500-1900, New York World's Fair, 1940, no. 240, repro.
1940
Seven Centuries of Painting, California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco, and M.H. De Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco, 1940, no. L-121
1979
French Romanticism, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1979, unnumbered checklist.
1989
Gericault: Romantic Paintings and Drawings, The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and California Palace of the Legion of Honor, 1989, no. 9
1991
Gericault, Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, Paris, 1991-1992, no. 41, repro.

Bibliography

1906
Delteil, Loys. Théodore Géricault (Le peintre-graveur illustré vol. 18). Paris, 1924: no. 6.
1937
Laprade, Jacques. "Une magnifique exposition d'oeuvres de Géricault." Beaux-Arts (14 May 1937): 8.
1938
"European Auctions." Art News 36 (1938): 80.
1938
Frankfurter, Alfred M. "The Apostles of Romanticism." Art News 37 (1938): 20.
1938
Goldschmidt, Ernst. Frankrigs Malerkunst. Copenhagen, 1938: 80.
1938
"La collection du duc de Trévise." Beaux Arts (29 April 1938): 7.
1938
"Trévise sale." Illustrated London News (4 June 1938): 996.
1939
Goldwater, Robert J. "Gros, Gericault, Delacroix." Art in America 27 (1939): 38, repro. on cover.
1939
Lane, James W. "Notes from New York." Apollo 29 (1939): 35.
1941
Dimier, Louis. "Le rôle de Géricault dans notre école." Beaux-Arts (19 September 1941): 9, repro.
1960
Eitner, Lorenz. Géricault, an Album of Drawings in the Art Institute of Chicago. Chicago, 1960: 9, 12, 41, 47 note 19, pl. 57 recto.
1967
Wiercinska, Janina. "Théodore Géricault et le 'Lancier Polonais' du Musée de Varsovie." Bulletin du Musée National de Varsovie 8, no. 3 (1967): 81-91.
1970
Johnson, Lee. "A Copy after Van Dyck by Géricault." The Burlington Magazine 112 (1970): 795, fig. 12.
1972
"Recent Accessions of American and Canadian Museums." The Art Quarterly 35 (1972): 438, 449, repro.
1973
"Art Across the USA." Apollo 97: 195, fig. 7.
1975
European Paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1975: 150, repro.
1976
Grunchec, Philippe. "L'inventaire posthume de Théodore Géricault." Bulletin de la Société de l'Histoire de l'Art Français (1976): 411-412, note 3.
1978
Grunchec, Philippe. Géricault, Tout l'oeuvre peint. Paris, 1978: 95-96, no. 66, repro. (Rev. ed., Paris, 1991: 96, no. 66).
1978
King, Marian. Adventures in Art: National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. New York, 1978: 83, pl. 49.
1979
Grunchec, Philippe. "Géricault, problème de méthode." Revue de l'Art 43 (1979): 42, 57.
1979
Watson, Ross. The National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1979: 102, pl. 90.
1982
Grunchec, Philippe. Géricault, dessins et aquarelles de chevaux. Lausanne, 1982: 70, repro.
1983
Eitner, Lorenz. Gericault, his Life and Work. London, 1983: 43, 278, 294, color pl. 9, 327 note 9 (French edition, Paris, 1991: 56-57, repro.).
1984
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 418, no. 598, color repro.
1985
European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 173, repro.
1987
Bazin, Germain. Théodore Gericault, étude critique, documents et catalogue raisonné. 7 vols. and appendix. Paris, 1987-1997: 2(1987):no. 293; 3(1989):50, 177, no. 801 as attributed to Jules Auguste.
1991
Eitner, Lorenz. "Review of Germain Bazin, Théodore Gericault, étude critique, documents et catalogue raisonné, vols. 1-3." The Burlington Magazine 133 (1991): 256.
1991
Grunchec, Philippe. Gericault, tout l'oeuvre peint. Rev. ed. Paris, 1991: 96, no. 66.
1995
National Gallery of Art. National Gallery of A rt, Washington, Rev. ed. Washington, D.C.,1995: 177, repro.
2000
Eitner, Lorenz. French Paintings of the Nineteenth Century, Part I: Before Impressionism. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 2000: 246-254, color repro.

Technical Summary

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