Théodore Géricault


A new monograph exploring the life and works of Théodore Géricault (1791–1824), an artist whose life, imagination and legacy continue to enthrall audiences, artists and critics alike.


Nina Athanassoglou-Kallmyer


Editions:

Price: USD$69.95

This new monograph explores the life and works of Théodore Géricault (1791–1824), whose compelling career and legacy continue to captivate audiences, artists and critics alike. In her comprehensive survey, Nina Athanassoglou-Kallmyer pays tribute to established Géricault scholarship, but also reassesses the career of an artist too easily miscast as the archetypal ‘tortured soul’ of art-historical Romantic mythology. She examines Géricault’s career in the context of Restoration France, a society under the controversial rule of Louis XVIII, in which civic structures, political process and even aesthetic categories were the subject of vigorous popular debate. Géricault immersed himself in these polemics, taking an intense interest in the fait divers, or ‘daily happenings’, of his time. Athanassoglou-Kallmyer explores his interest in medical and psychiatric science (as exemplified by a series of portraits of monomaniacs), his empathy for the poor and dispossessed (the subject of numerous lithographs) and the entrepreneurial spirit that led him to exhibit his epic canvas, the Raft of the Medusa, in London as a commercial venture. Géricault is presented as an artist committed to capturing contemporary life with creative integrity and dramatic verve.

Born into a provincial middle-class family, Géricault used an inheritance from his mother’s death to pursue his artistic vocation, training first under Vernet and Guérin before spending four years on his own course of independent study. His choice of Renaissance and Baroque masters such as Titian, Caravaggio and Rubens as models shaped his aesthetic agenda and encouraged him to break away from the Neo-classicism favoured by his early tutors. Further influenced by a vogue for modern, military subjects, Géricault presented himself at the 1812 Salon with the dashing Charging Chasseur, a critical success that the artist was unable to repeat when he presented again at the Salon three years later. A period of stylistic experimentation followed: Géricault travelled to Rome to absorb classical examples and strove to develop his ‘grand’ style. The effort spent here served Géricault well when he returned to France and began work on the Raft of the Medusa, a politically charged project that absorbed the painter in obsessive study for more than a year. In her analysis of this enduring image, Athanassoglou–Kallmyer addresses the perception of Géricault as a tragic figure, drawn by temperament to the depiction of morbid and macabre themes, discussing this painting among others in the context of Romantic taste for the ‘Gothic’ and its political and artistic implications.

Géricault suffered a nervous breakdown in 1819, following the Medusa’s disappointing reception at the Salon, and retreated to England, where he abandoned grand projects in favour of lighter, more fashionable work. It was not until 1823, on his deathbed, that Géricault’s interest in large-scale work was revived and he produced a wealth of sketches for future compositions. These plans, full of energy and drama, serve to suggest why this immensely talented artist has continued to influence artists from the time of his death to the present.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Format: Hardback
Size: 290 x 250 mm (11 3/8 x 9 7/8 in)
Pages: 232 pp
Illustrations: 200 illustrations
ISBN: 9780714844008

Born in Athens, Greece, and trained as an art historian at the University of Paris (Sorbonne) and Princeton University, Nina Athanassoglou-Kallmyer previously taught at the University of Maryland and the University of Chicago and is currently Professor of Art History, University of Delaware. She has published extensively on French nineteenth-century art, including essays on Géricault, Horace Vernet, Delacroix, and Cézanne, and three books: French Images from the Greek War of Independence. Art and Politics under the Restoration (Yale University Press, 1989), which was a runner up for the CINOA award; Eugène Delacroix. Prints, Politics and Satire (Yale University Press, 1991); and Cézanne and Provence. The Painter in his Culture (University of Chicago Press, 2003), which was a finalist for the CAA's W.O. Mitchell Prize. She is the recipient of the CAA's Arthur Kingsley Porter Prize, and of numerous grants and fellowships including a J.S. Guggenheim Fellowship, a fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, and an Ailsa Mellon Bruce Senior fellowship at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.

"The breadth and depth of the oeuvre of Théodore Géricault has been captured in this new volume by Nina Athanassoglou-Kallmayer... One of the most compelling features of the book is the way in which the author threads the shifting subjects of Géricault's art through the warp and weft of the political and social crises of France in the early 19th century."—The Art Newspaper

"Handsomely produced... [An] important contribution to the vast literature on this complex and compelling artist... Extends the range of Géricault art-historical scholarship and interpretation... Selects judiciously from the range of new research to present Géricault as a 'pioneer modernist'... [An] engrossing account... With superb accompanying illustrations... Athanassoglou-Kallmyer's well-written volume is a comprehensive account which admirably combines some of the achievements of earlier scholarship with the most recent developments in Géricault studies."—The Burlington Magazine

"Nina Athanassoglou-Kallmyer has digested recent scholarship and integrated it into a flowing narrative covering the artist's life and art... Describes Géricault’s art and explains the motivations behind the artist very well. It also sets these in context while not overwhelming the reader with too much detail... For anyone already with an interest in Géricault this book makes an excellent survey."—Cassone.com

"The breadth and depth of the oeuvre of Théodore Géricault has been captured in this new volume by Nina Athanassoglou-Kallmayer... One of the most compelling features of the book is the way in which the author threads the shifting subjects of Géricault's art through the warp and weft of the political and social crises of France in the early 19th century."—The Art Newspaper

"Handsomely produced... [An] important contribution to the vast literature on this complex and compelling artist... Extends the range of Géricault art-historical scholarship and interpretation... Selects judiciously from the range of new research to present Géricault as a 'pioneer modernist'... [An] engrossing account... With superb accompanying illustrations... Athanassoglou-Kallmyer's well-written volume is a comprehensive account which admirably combines some of the achievements of earlier scholarship with the most recent developments in Géricault studies."—The Burlington Magazine


 

 

 
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE
Delacroix
Art in Time
Friedrich
The Story of Art

HOME OF THE VISUAL ARTS

Phaidon is the premier global publisher of the creative arts with over 1,500 titles in print. We work with the world's most influential artists, chefs, writers and thinkers to produce innovative books on art, photography, design, architecture, fashion, food and travel, and illustrated books for children. Phaidon is headquartered in London and New York City.
Read more