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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.

More information on this painting can be found in the Gallery publication French Paintings of the Nineteenth Century, Part I: Before Impressionism, which is available as a free PDF


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

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


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

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