Face in Glass, 2013

Scarf parf, Greens, Greedo, Snaggly, Hop


Audio Guide# 2375 (in French: Le Radeau de la Méduse)

by Théodore GÉRICAULT (Rouen, 1791 - Paris, 1824), Salon de 1819

Department of Paintings: French painting (oil)

Location: Denon wing1st floor, Mollien, Room 77
Raft of the Medusa image

Drunk and passed-out buddies from an all-night party arriving too late and trying to catch their Caribbean cruise.


This is an important French 19th century painting that also inspired the Statue of Liberty and a Broadway musical. It's based on a real event: In 1816, an idiot captain sank a frigate (a smaller, fast warship) on a sandbar. 150 people got onto a makeshift raft and then promptly started dining on one another. 13 days later, a ship, barely visible in the distance, passed by but didn't see them.  The painting shows this moment of cruel fate: some cannibals wave desperately, one cries for his dead son, others just sit on their dinners. The ship did return. only 10 survived. The foolish captain died.


This huge painting is an icon of the Romantic movement where poetic, emotional, powerful pieces were exalted.  The "meat" of the subject matter it is in a "triangle" (seriously, painters love 'em) tilted to the right to show "action" where the ship is at the pointy top. The bodies are in chiaroscuro, which is a high contrast of light and dark, made famous by Caravaggio who was a 1600s painter, brawler, and murderer with a pope-issued death warrant on his head.


Géricault painted "Raft" when he was only 27 years old. He did meticulous research, talked to survivors and even went to the morgue to see and paint corpses. Perhaps he even ate one with some fava beans and a nice chianti, like Hannibal "the cannibal" Lecter. The result was that "Raft" shocked people; the "pile of corpses" evoked great admiration or disgust and it was the star of the Salon of 1819, a yearly art competition. 


Some Fun Facts. Delacroix, a famous painter and  Géricault's buddy may have modelled a dead guy for "Raft." Art experts have debated this important stuff for centuries... and getting paid for it. "Raft" has had huge influence. It inspired Delacroix to paint the super-important "Liberty leading the people" which itself inspired the Statue of Liberty in 1875 and Victor Hugo's book "Les Miserables" that then inspired the eponymous Broadway musical Les Mis 162 years later AND two bad Hollywood knock-offs starring Liam Neeson (1998) and Hugh Jackman (2012). Phew! Thankfully, no musicals have about Lady Liberty exist. Yet. What does exist is the 1/6 scale original model of her in the awesome Arts et Métiers science museum, just 20 minutes by foot  -- you should go!

References: WikipediaLouvre (click links)

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This is an important French 19th century painting that inspired the Statue of Liberty and a Broadway musical. It's based on a real event: In 1816, an idiot captain sank a frigate (a smaller, fast warship) on a sandbar. There weren’t enough evacuation boats so 150 people got onto a makeshift raft and then promptly started dining on one another. 13 days later, a ship, barely visible in the distance, passed by but didn't see them.  The painting shows this moment of cruel fate: some cannibals wave desperately, one cries for his dead son, others just sit on their dinners. The ship did return. Only 15 survived.

 

This huge painting is an icon of the Romantic movement where poetic, emotional, powerful pieces were exalted.  The "meat" of the subject matter it is in a compositional "triangle" (seriously, painters love 'em) tilted to the right to show "action" where the ship is at the pointy top. The bodies are in chiaroscuro, which is a high contrast of light and dark, made famous by Caravaggio who was a 1600s painter, brawler, and murderer with a pope-issued death warrant on his head.

 

Géricault painted "Raft" when he was only 27 years old. He did meticulous research, talked to survivors and even went to the morgue to see and paint corpses. Perhaps he even ate one with some fava beans and a nice chianti, like Hannibal "the cannibal" Lecter. The result was that "Raft" shocked people; the "pile of corpses" evoked great admiration or disgust and it was the star of the Salon of 1819, a yearly art competition. 

 

Some Fun Facts. Delacroix, a famous painter and  Géricault's buddy may have modeled a dead guy for "Raft." Art experts have debated this important stuff for centuries... and getting paid for it. "Raft" has had huge influence. It inspired Delacroix to paint the super-important "Liberty leading the people" which itself inspired the Statue of Liberty in 1875 and Victor Hugo's book "Les Miserables" that then inspired the eponymous Broadway musical Les Mis 162 years later AND two bad Hollywood knock-offs starring Liam Neeson (1998) and Hugh Jackman (2012). Phew! Thankfully, no musicals have about Lady Liberty exist. Yet. What does exist is the 1/6 scale original model of her in the awesome Arts et Métiers science museum, just 20 minutes by foot  -- you should go!


Romanticism was an art movement from 1800-1860 that was a response to the rational, logical, gritty, grimy industrial revolution. It celebrated beauty, emotions and awe of nature and its power. It often has tragic heroism and soft lines, all made by idealistic rich guys  like Géricault who'd never once set foot in a factory, whose dad was a moneyed lawyer.


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"Raft" inspired Delacroix's super-important painting of "Liberty leading the people", which then inspired both the Statue of Liberty and Victor Hugo's book "Les Miserables," which itself inspired a kick-ass Broadway musical and two non-kick-ass Hollywood ones starring Liam Neeson and Hugh Jackman. Delacroix was Géricault's buddy and may have modelled for one of the dead guys. Art experts have spent centuries debating this important stuff and getting paid for it. A scale study (high as 3 people) of the Statue of Liberty is in the Arts et Métiers science museum in Paris. No musicals on the Statue of Liberty have been made. Yet. Thankfully.

References: WikipediaLouvre (click links)



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delete all this later:


The painting stands as a synthetic view of human life abandoned to its fate. The pallid bodies are given cruel emphasis by a Caravaggio-style chiaroscuro; some writhe in the elation of hope, while others are unaware of the passing ship. 


we didn't cover ALL of this: The latter include two figures of despair and solitude: one mourning his son, the other bewailing his own fate. These figures reflect the Romantic inspiration that fueled the work of both Géricault and Gros, and the former's admiration for the latter (see The Plague-Stricken in Jaffa).


this is the moment that's shown:  


In 1816 (history), a politically-connected fool captain sank the Medusa, a frigate (a smaller, fast warship), on a sandbar near Senegal. There weren't enough lifeboats, so 150 survivors got on a makeshift raft and promptly started dining on the weaker ones. 13 days later, a passing ship sailed away (barely visible in the distance) before coming back to the rescue -- this is the moment that's shown, as it sails away with the survivors' hopes. Some people waved desperately, others just looked away and didn't even care. Some just sat on their dinners. Only 10 cannibals survived.


Géricault's shock tactics got him fame: people reacted strongly with great admiration or disgust at “the pile of corpses." and "Raft" was the star of the show at the Salon of 1819 (a yearly art competition). To get the feel for colors and things, talked to the survivors and painted corpses at the local morgue. He may have enjoyed a bite or two with some fava beans and a nice chianti, in the company of Dr. Hannibal "the cannibal" Lecter. 

Géricault's shock tactics got him fame: people reacted strongly with great admiration or disgust at “the pile of corpses." and "Raft" was the star of the show at the Salon of 1819 (a yearly art competition). To get the feel for colors and things, talked to the survivors and painted corpses at the local morgue. He may have enjoyed a bite or two with some fava beans and a nice chianti, in the company of Dr. Hannibal "the cannibal" Lecter. 


"Raft" inspired Delacroix's super-important painting of "Liberty leading the people", which then inspired both the Statue of Liberty and Victor Hugo's book "Les Miserables," which itself inspired a kick-ass Broadway musical and two non-kick-ass Hollywood ones starring Liam Neeson and Hugh Jackman. Delacroix was Géricault's buddy and may have modelled for one of the dead guys. Art experts have spent centuries debating this important stuff and getting paid for it. An scale study (high as 3 people) of the Statue of Liberty is in the Arts et Métiers science museum in Paris. No musicals on the Statue of Liberty have been made. Yet. Thankfully.

Factoids. "Raft" inspired Victor Hugo's book "Les Miserables" (1862, 45 years later), an awesome painting, "Liberty leading the people," (1830, 12 years later) which itself inspired the Statue of Liberty (1875) that then inspired the eponymous Broadway musical (1980, 162 years later!) and two bad Hollywood knock-offs starring Liam Neeson (1998) and Hugh Jackman (2012).


References: WikipediaLouvre (click links)