The exhibition examines the many facets of the horse, from the military horse to the proletarian horse, from the horse of ancient times to the English horse, and from head and croup portraits to equestrian portraits. A number of previously unseen works and pieces restored for the occasion, and selected from public and private collections, will give the public a chance to rediscover an animal that is intrinsically associated with the artist.
As Théophile Gautier wrote: “since the friezes of the Parthenon, where Phidias parades his long cavalcades, no other artist has rendered equine perfection quite as well as Géricault has". Since training under equine painter Carle Vernet and in Pierre Guérin’s studio, Géricault never ceased to assert his love of the equestrian world. He is heir to an age-old tradition that sees the stables as a wellspring of talent and inspiration. Eugène Delacroix, another of Guérin’s pupils, was fascinated by Géricault’s personality, and perfectly summed up the aesthetic purpose of such visits to the stables. On 15 April 1823, he wrote in his journal: “I really must settle down to drawing horses. I must go to a stable every morning; I shall go to bed very early and get up early as well.”
In Géricault’s case, this absolute necessity is reflected in the dozens of paintings and hundreds of drawings of horses – from simple sketches to masterful plates – in which the artist fanatically explores equine anatomy, the expressiveness of horses, from birth to death, from anger to tenderness, by way of war, toil, misery and sexuality. Like a rebellious annex to the official master’s studio, an animal space proper to the Romantic generation’s creativity, the stable was the epicentre of all of Théodore Géricault’s aesthetic experiments.
Public et Horaire
- Enfant / Adolescent
16 rue Chaptal, 75009 Paris
Phone : 01 55 31 95 67
Open Tuesday to Sunday, 10am to 6pm
- Enfant / Adolescent
Théodore Géricault, Sapeur du premier régiment de hussards, 1814, huile sur toile, 81 x 64 cm, Paris, collection particulière.
Gaëlle Rio, director of the musée de la Vie romantique
Bruno Chenique, independent art historian