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Essential motifs of his paintings are horses, riding scenes, landscapes and portraits of simple people. Géricault became famous for his painting Le Radeau de la Méduse (The Raft of the Medusa), which was offered and exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1819 under the innocuous title Scene of a Shipwreck. This evoked the memory of a scandalous incident in 1816 in which 137 sailors were killed and which led to the immediate dismissal of the minister responsible for the navy and 200 naval officers. The painting also suggests a transition to realism on the part of the artist, for he made numerous studies of the sick, injured and corpses in Parisian hospitals for the painting. In this respect, although his painting style is still romantic, the physicality of the sitters is already of realistic accuracy.

Jean-Louis André Théodore Géricault (* September 26, 1791 in Rouen, France; † January 26, 1824 in Paris) was a French painter, sculptor, draftsman and lithographer. He is considered one of the most important representatives of Romanticism in French painting. Théodore was born in Rouen, the son of the lawyer and tobacco manufacturer Georges-Nicolas Géricault (1743-1826) and his wife Louise-Jeanne-Marie Caruel (1753-1808). Around 1796 the family moved to Paris.

*1791-1824

Théodore Géricault

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Oil on canvas, 491,0 x 716,0 cm
 Musée du Louvre, Paris, France 
 © Bridgeman Images

104 | The Raft of the Medusa (Le Radeau de la Méduse) Das Floß der Medusa, 1819

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Géricault, who died young as a result of a riding accident, is buried in the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris. The copper plate on his grave shows the painting The Raft of the Medusa (small format) in relief. On the grave plinth is a sculpture showing Géricault (lying down) with a colour palette and brush.

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