The Raft of the Medusa
oil on canvas
H.491 X W.720cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris
Théodore Géricault (1791 - 1824) France
Géricault’s works often dealt with the human condition, encompassing such subjects as the suffering, abused and insane.
These themes appear in such works as his Liberation of the Victim of Inquisition and the Slave Trade. The Raft of the Medusa was based on the tragic events of the shipwreck of a boat,146 passengers were left by their captain to drift on the open sea, at the end only 15 of the 146 survived.
Géricault was an active liberal opposed to the Bourbon Restoration. The shipwreck of the Medusa was particularly important to him because the derelict captain had been appointed through his connections to the government. Besides the inherent drama of the huge piece, which took Géricault 16 months to complete, the symbolism of the raft as the French nation, aimless and drifting, its people left to suffer, is particularly poignant.
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