painting - The Raft of the Medusa

painting - The Raft of the Medusa
Photograph by tracie7779on Flickr.

A scenery truck from the Comédie-Française transported the painting on the to Versailles in the night of September 3rd. The painting The Raft of the Medusa influence is not only in Courbet s enormous scale, but in his willingness to portray ordinary people and current political painting events, The influence of The Raft of the Medusa was felt by artists beyond France.

The master himself was nearing his end, and exiled in Belgium. His efforts took him to morgues and hospitals where he could view, first-hand, painting Fresco the colour and texture of the flesh of the dying and dead.

Two of the raft s survivors are seen in shadow at the foot of the mast; According to Hubert Wellington, Delacroix—who would become the standard-bearer of French Romanticism after Géricault s death—wrote, Géricault allowed me to see his Raft of Medusa while he was still working on it. The collision was widely blamed on the incompetence of De Chaumereys, a returned émigré who lacked experience and ability, but had been granted his commission as a result of an act of political preferment.

He wrote that Delacroix s Massacre at Chios and Géricault s Raft of the Medusa confronted Rodin on a heroic scale with the innocent nameless victims of political tragedies . Copley had also painted several large and heroic depictions of disasters at sea which Géricault may have known from prints: Watson and the Shark (1778), in which a black man is central to the action, and which, like The Raft of the Medusa, concentrated on the actors of the drama rather than the seascape; The Defeat of the Floating Batteries at Gibraltar, September 1782 (1791), which was an influence on both the style and subject matter of Géricault s work; and Scene of a Shipwreck (1790s), which has a strikingly similar composition. The Raft of the Medusa was first shown at the 1819 Paris Salon, under the generic title Scène de Naufrage (Scene of Shipwreck), although its real subject would have been unmistakable for contemporary viewers. The exhibition was sponsored by Louis XVIII and featured nearly 1,300 individual paintings, 208 sculptures and numerous other engravings and architectural designs.

Crazed, parched and starved, they slaughtered mutineers, ate their dead companions and killed the weakest. The Raft of the Medusa portrays the moment when, after 13 days adrift on the raft, the remaining 15 survivors view a ship approaching from a distance. Muther observes that there is still something academic in the figures, which do not seem to be sufficiently weakened by privation, disease, and the struggle with death . The influence of Jacques-Louis David can be seen in the painting s scale, in the sculptural tautness of the figures and in the heightened manner in which a particularly significant fruitful moment —the first awareness of the approaching ship—is described. The young Géricault had painted copies of work by Pierre-Paul Prud hon (1758–1823), whose thunderously tragic pictures include his masterpiece, Justice and Divine Vengeance Pursuing Crime, where oppressive darkness and the compositional base of a naked, sprawled corpse obviously influenced Géricault s painting. The foreground figure of the older man may be a reference to Ugolino from Dante s Inferno—a subject that Géricault had contemplated painting—and seems to borrow from a painting of Ugolini by Henry Fuseli (1741–1825) that Géricault may have known from prints.

Francis Danby, a British painter born in Ireland, probably was inspired by GĂ©ricault s picture when he painted Sunset at Sea after a Storm in 1824, and wrote in 1829 that The Raft of the Medusa was the finest and grandest historical picture I have ever seen . The subject of marine tragedy was undertaken by J. It was acquired by the Louvre soon after the artist s early death at the age of 32.

Turner, Gustave Courbet and Édouard Manet. In June 1816, the French frigate Méduse departed from Rochefort, bound for the Senegalese port of Saint-Louis. Turner (1775–1851), who, like many English artists, probably saw Géricault s painting when it was exhibited in London in 1820. The Gulf Stream (1899), by the American artist Winslow Homer (1836–1910), replicates the composition of The Raft of the Medusa with a damaged vessel, ominously surrounded by sharks and threatened by a waterspout.

According to an early British reviewer, the work is set at a moment when the ruin of the raft may be said to be complete . The makeshift raft is shown as barely seaworthy as it rides the deep waves, while the men are rendered as broken and in utter despair. The painting s influence can be seen in the works of Eugène Delacroix, J.

On the other, hope and life. For Kenneth Clark, The Raft of the Medusa remains the chief example of romantic pathos expressed through the nude; and that obsession with death, which drove GĂ©ricault to frequent mortuary chambers and places of public execution, gives truth to his figures of the dead and the dying. As the artist had anticipated, the painting proved highly controversial at its first appearance in the 1819 Paris Salon, attracting passionate praise and condemnation in equal measure.

to crowds who knew about the controversy surrounding the shipwreck. Reviews favoured the painting, which also stimulated plays, poems, performances and a children s book. Because of deterioration in the condition of Géricault s original, the Louvre in 1859–60 commissioned two French artists, Pierre-Désiré Guillemet and Étienne-Antoine-Eugène Ronjat, to make a full size copy of the original for loan exhibitions. In the autumn of 1939, the Medusa was packed for removal from the Louvre in anticipation of the outbreak of war.

Viscount Hugues Duroy de Chaumereys had been appointed captain of the frigate despite having scarcely sailed in 20 years. According to Wellington, The curious blend of classic with realistic outlook which had been imposed by the discipline of David was now losing both animation and interest.

The men in the middle have just viewed a rescue ship; one points it out to another, and an African crew member, Jean Charles, The pictorial composition of the painting is constructed upon two pyramidal structures. Both the choice of subject matter and the heightened manner in which the dramatic moment is depicted are typical of Romantic painting—strong indications of the extent to which Géricault had moved from the prevalent Neoclassical movement. Hubert Wellington said that while Delacroix was a lifelong admirer of Gros, the dominating enthusiasm of his youth was for Géricault.

The appointed French governor of Senegal, Colonel Julien-DĂ©sirĂ© Schmaltz, and his wife Reine Schmaltz were among the passengers. In an effort to make good time, the MĂ©duse overtook the other ships, but due to its speed it drifted 100 miles (161 km) off course. For sustenance the crew of the raft had only a bag of ship s biscuit (consumed on the first day), two casks of water (lost overboard during fighting) and a few casks of wine. According to critic Jonathan Miles, the raft carried the survivors to the frontiers of human experience.

W. The perimeter of the large mast on the left of the canvas forms the first.

A number of bodies litter the foreground, waiting to be swept away by the surrounding waves. He then posed models one at a time, completing each figure before moving onto the next, as opposed to the more usual method of working over the whole composition.

According to the art historian Richard Muther, there is still a strong debt to Classicism in the work. The event became an international scandal, in part because its cause was widely attributed to the incompetence of the French captain acting under the authority of the recently restored French monarchy. In choosing the tragedy as subject matter for his first major work—an uncommissioned depiction of an event from recent history—Géricault consciously selected a well-known incident that would generate great public interest and help launch his career.

The Raft of the Medusa (French: Le Radeau de la Méduse) is an oil painting of 1818–1819 by the French Romantic painter and lithographer Théodore Géricault (1791–1824). M.

The painting s conception proved slow and difficult for Géricault, and he struggled to select a single pictorially-effective moment to best capture the inherent drama of the event. Among the scenes he considered were the mutiny against the officers from the second day on the raft, the cannibalism that occurred after only a few days, and the rescue. To a public well-versed in the particulars of the disaster, the scene would have been understood to encompass the aftermath of the crew s abandonment, focusing on the moment when all hope seemed lost The author Rupert Christiansen points out that the painting depicts more figures than had been on the raft at the time of the rescue—including corpses which were not recorded by the rescuers. The dramatic composition of Géricault, with its strong contrasts of tone and unconventional gestures, stimulated Delacroix to trust his own creative impulses on a large work.

By the 18th century, shipwrecks had become a recognised feature of maritime art, as well as an increasingly common occurrence as more journeys were made by sea. The event fascinated the young artist, and before he began work on the final painting, he undertook extensive research and produced many preparatory sketches.

W. The painting was seen as largely sympathetic to the men on the raft, and thus by extension to the anti-imperial cause adopted by the survivors Savigny and Correard. The painting generally impressed the viewing public, although its subject matter repelled many, thus denying GĂ©ricault the popular acclaim which he had hoped to achieve. GĂ©ricault arranged for the painting to be exhibited in London in 1820, where it was shown at William Bullock s Egyptian Hall in Piccadilly, London, from June 10 until the end of the year, and viewed by about 40,000 visitors. The Raft of the Medusa was championed by the curator of the Louvre, comte de Forbin who purchased it from GĂ©ricault s heirs after his death in 1824 for the museum, where the painting now dominates its gallery. At some time between 1826 and 1830 American artist George Cooke (1793–1849) made a copy of the painting in a smaller size, (130.5 x 196.2 cm; approximately 4 ft Ă— 6 ft), which was shown in Boston, Philadelphia, New York and Washington, D.C.

It made so tremendous an impression on me that when I came out of the studio I started running like a madman and did not stop till I reached my own room. GĂ©ricault painted with small brushes and viscous oils, which allowed little time for reworking and were dry by the next morning. GĂ©ricault s work attracted wide attention almost immediately from its first showing, and was subsequently exhibited in London.

Delacroix said, GĂ©ricault allowed me to see his Raft of Medusa while he was still working on it. According to Wellington, Delacroix s masterpiece of 1830, Liberty Leading the People, springs directly from GĂ©ricault s The Raft of the Medusa and Delacroix s own Massacre at Chios. M.

One old man holds the corpse of his son at his knees; another tears his hair out in frustration and defeat. Over 30 years after the completion of the work, his friend Montfort recalled: Working with little distraction, the artist completed the painting in 8 months; The Raft of the Medusa fuses many influences from the Old Masters, such as Last Judgment of Michelangelo (1475–1564), to the monumental approach of Jacques-Louis David (1748–1825) and Antoine-Jean Gros (1771–1835) to contemporary events.

However, it established his international reputation, and today is widely seen as seminal in the early history of the Romantic movement in French painting. Although The Raft of the Medusa retains elements of the traditions of history painting, in both its choice of subject matter and its dramatic presentation, it represents a break from the calm and order of the then-prevailing Neoclassical school. Wellington wrote that While GĂ©ricault carried his interest in actual detail to the point of searching for more survivors from the wreck as models, Delacroix felt his composition more vividly as a whole, thought of his figures and crowds as types, and dominated them by the symbolic figure of Republican Liberty which is one of his finest plastic inventions. The art and sculpture historian Albert Elsen believed that The Raft of the Medusa and Delacroix s Massacre at Chios provided the inspiration for the grandiose sweep of Auguste Rodin s monumental sculpture The Gates of Hell.

Some time later, the Medusa was moved to the Château de Chambord where it remained until after the end of the Second World War. In its insistence on portraying an unpleasant truth, The Raft of the Medusa marked the beginning of the Romantic movement in French painting, and laid the foundations of an aesthetic revolution In France, both history painting and the Neoclassical style continued through the work of Antoine-Jean Gros, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, François Gérard, Anne-Louis Girodet de Roussy-Trioson, Pierre-Narcisse Guérin—teacher of both Géricault and Delacroix—and other artists who remained committed to the artistic traditions of David and Nicolas Poussin. In his introduction to The Journal of Eugene Delacroix, Hubert Wellington wrote about Delacroix s opinion of the state of French painting just prior to the Salon of 1819. The concentration in this way on individual elements gave the work both a shocking physicality and a sense of deliberate theatricality—which some critics consider an adverse effect.

At 491 cm Ă— 716 cm (193.3 in Ă— 282.3 in), it is an over-life-size painting that depicts a moment from the aftermath of the wreck of the French naval frigate MĂ©duse, which ran aground off the coast of today s Mauritania on July 5, 1816. In Dante, Ugolino is guilty of cannibalism, which was one of the most sensational aspects of the days on the raft.

He kept his colours apart from each other: his palette consisted of vermilion, white, naples yellow, two different yellow ochres, two red ochres, raw sienna, light red, burnt sienna, crimson lake, Prussian blue, peach black, ivory black, cassel earth and bitumen. Géricault drew an outline sketch of the composition onto the canvas. Their outlines may be taken from the classics, but they have been seen again with a craving for violent experience. Today, a bronze bas-relief of The Raft of the Medusa by Antoine Étex adorns Géricault s grave in Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. .

Gérard, immensely successful painter of portraits under the Empire—some of them admirable—fell in with the new vogue for large pictures of history, but without enthusiasm. The Raft of the Medusa contains the gestures and grand scale of traditional history painting; however, it presents ordinary people, rather than heroes, reacting to the unfolding drama. The unblemished musculature of the central figure waving to the rescue ship is reminiscent of the Neoclassical, however the naturalism of light and shadow, the authenticity of the desperation shown by the survivors and the emotional character of the composition differentiate it from Neoclassical austerity. The contemporary critic Frank Anderson Trapp suggested that the volume of work shown and the sheer scale of the event indicates the ambition behind the exhibition.

At least 147 people were set adrift on a hurriedly constructed raft; all but 15 died in the 13 days before their rescue, and those who survived endured starvation, dehydration, cannibalism, and madness. A ship in the distance mirrors the Argus from GĂ©ricault s painting. In the early 90 s, sculptor John Connell, in his Raft Project, a collaborative project with painter Eugene Newmann, recreated the The Raft of the Medusa by making life-sized sculptures out of wood, paper and tar and placing them on a large wooden raft. Remarking on the contrast between the dying figures in the foreground and the figures in the mid-ground waving towards the approaching rescue ship, the French art historian Georges-Antoine Borias wrote that GĂ©ricault s painting represents, on the one hand, desolation and death.

Critics responded to his aggressive approach in kind, and their reactions were either ones of revulsion or praise, depending on whether the writer s sympathies favoured the Bourbon or Liberal viewpoint. It was a further departure from the religious or classical themes of earlier works because it depicted contemporary events with ordinary and unheroic figures.

His most docile pupil, Girodet, a refined and cultivated classicist, was producing pictures of astonishing frigidity. Like GĂ©ricault, Homer makes a black man the pivotal figure in the scene, though here he is the vessel s sole occupant.

The frigate s mission was to accept the British return of Senegal under the terms of France s acceptance of the Peace of Paris. The horizontal grouping of dead and dying figures in the foreground forms the base from which the survivors emerge, surging upward towards the emotional peak, where the central figure waves desperately at a rescue ship. The viewer s attention is first drawn to the centre of the canvas, then follows the directional flow of the survivors bodies, viewed from behind and straining to the right. Géricault s palette is composed of pallid flesh tones, and the murky colours of the survivors clothes, the sea and the clouds. Géricault was captivated by accounts of the widely publicised 1816 shipwreck, and realised that a depiction of the event might be an opportunity to establish his reputation as a painter. Earlier travels had exposed Géricault to victims of insanity and plague, and while researching the Méduse his effort to be historically accurate and realistic led to an obsession with the stiffness of corpses. He worked with Corréard, Savigny and another of the survivors, the carpenter Lavillette, to construct an accurately detailed scale model of the raft, which was reproduced on the finished canvas, even showing the gaps between some of planks. He drew and painted numerous preparatory sketches while deciding which of several alternative moments of the disaster he would depict in the final work.

Completed when the artist was just 27, the work has become an icon of French Romanticism. Instead of the sunny morning and calm water reported on the day of the rescue, Géricault depicted a gathering storm and dark, heaving sea to reinforce the emotional gloom. Géricault, who had just been forced to break off a painful affair with his aunt, shaved his head and from November 1818 to July 1819 lived a disciplined monastic existence in his studio in the Faubourg du Roule, being brought meals by his concierge and only occasionally spending an evening out. He used friends as models, most notably the painter Eugène Delacroix (1798–1863), who modelled for the figure in the foreground with face turned downward and one arm outstretched.

Trapp notes that the fact that 100 grandiose history paintings Géricault had deliberately sought to be both politically and artistically confrontational. If Rodin was inspired to rival Michelangelo s Last Judgment, he had Géricault s Raft of the Medusa in front of him for encouragement. While Gustave Courbet (1819–1877) could be described as an anti-Romantic painter, his major works like A Burial at Ornans (1849–50) and The Artist s Studio (1855) owe a debt to The Raft of the Medusa.

GĂ©ricault seems to allude to this through the borrowing from Fuseli. Several English and American paintings including The Death of Major Pierson by John Singleton Copley (1738–1815)—also painted within 2 years of the event—had established a precedent for a contemporary subject. She headed a convoy of three other ships: the storeship Loire, the brig Argus and the corvette Écho.

He interviewed two of the survivors, and constructed a detailed scale model of the raft. The fact that the majority of the figures are almost naked, he wrote, arose from a desire to avoid unpictorial costumes.

Claude Joseph Vernet (1714–1789) created many such images, Although the men depicted on the raft had spent 13 days adrift and suffered hunger, disease and cannibalism, GĂ©ricault pays tribute to the traditions of heroic painting and presents his figures as muscular and healthy. On July 2, it ran aground on a sandbank off the West African coast, near today s Mauritania.