Study of a Model

Object Details


Study of a Model


Théodore Géricault (French, 1791 - 1824)




about 1818 - 1819


Oil on canvas


47 x 38.7 cm (18 1/2 x 15 1/4 in.)

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This portrait was made as a study for Théodore Géricault's most famous painting, The Raft of the Medusa, made in 1819 and now in the Louvre. In a clear case of ineptitude, the ship named Medusa foundered in the sea off the coast of Africa in 1816. A raft with 140 passengers drifted for thirteen days before being rescued; only fifteen people survived. In preparation for his disturbing and controversial painting of the incident, Géricault made many studies from life, like this one, to achieve a sense of realism and specificity.

The sitter wears a shirt similar to those worn by the survivors of the Medusa. Géricault captured the man's character with great sympathy and spontaneity; his watery eyes do not focus on anything outside the canvas but appear to express an internal torment. Shades of brown, gray, and beige blend together to imitate his dark complexion. Dabs of white and beige paint are used to indicate reflective light in his eyes and on the tip of his nose, his bottom lip, and his chin.

by 1879 -

Georges Duplessis, 1834 - 1899 (Paris, France)

Pierre Dubaut, 1886 - 1968 (Paris, France)

by 1953 - 1967

Hans Eduard Bühler, 1893 - 1967 (Schloss Berg-am-Irchel, Winterthur, Switzerland), by inheritance to his heirs, 1967.

1967 - 1985

Heirs of Hans Eduard Bühler, 1893 - 1967 (Schloss Berg-am-Irchel, Winterthur, Switzerland) [sold, Bühler sale, Christie's, London, November 15, 1985, lot 25, through Eugene Thaw to the J. Paul Getty Museum]

Theodore Géricault, 1791 - 1824 (August 30 to November 8, 1953) (86)
  • Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library, (Winterthur), August 30 to November 8, 1953
De Géricault à Matisse: chefs-d'oeuvre français des collections suisses (March to May, 1959) (62)
  • Musée du Petit Palais, (Paris), March to May, 1959
Die Welt des Impressionismus (June 29 to September 29, 1963) (48)
  • Museum zu Allerheiligen, (Schaffhausen), June 29 to September 29, 1963
Weltkulturen und moderne Kunst (June 16 to September 30, 1972) (5)
  • Haus der Kunst (Munich), June 16 to September 30, 1972
Géricault: Romantic Paintings and Drawings (January 28 to March 26, 1989) (42)
  • California Palace of the Legion of Honor, (San Francisco), January 28 to March 26, 1989
Gericault (October 10, 1991 to January 6, 1992) (173)
  • Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, (Paris), October 10, 1991 to January 6, 1992
Constable to Delacroix: British Art and the French Romantics (February 5, 2003 to January 4, 2004) (23)
  • Tate Britain, (London), February 5 to May 11, 2003
  • The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, (Minneapolis), June 8 to September 7, 2003
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art, (New York), October 7, 2003 to January 4, 2004
Géricault: Images of Life and Death (October 17, 2013 to May 25, 2014) (23)
  • Schirn Kunsthalle (Frankfurt), October 17, 2013 to January 26, 2014
  • Museum voor Schone Kunsten (Gand), February 21 to May 25, 2014

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Théodore Géricault, 1791-1824, exh. cat. (Winterthur: Kunstmuseum, 1953), p. 34, no. 86, pl. 17.

Eitner, Lorenz. "Géricault at Winterthur." The Burlington Magazine 96, no. 617 (August 1954), pp. 255, 258, fig. 23.

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Berger, Klaus, and Diane Chalmers Johnson. "Art as Confrontation: The Black Man in the Work of Gericault." The Massachusetts Review 10, no. 2 (Spring 1969), pp. 311, 327, fig. 13.

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Wichmann, Siegfried, et al. Weltkulturen und moderne Kunst, exh. cat. (Munich: Haus der Kunst, 1972), pp. 29, 32, 35, no. 5, ill., text by Siegfried Wichmann.

Thuillier, Jacques, and Philippe Grunchec. Tout l'oeuvre peint de Gericault (Paris: Flammarion, 1978), pp. 112-13, no. 166, pl. 46.

Grunchec, Philippe. Gericault, exh. cat. Benedetta Origo, trans. (Rome: Villa Medici, with Edizioni dell'Elefante, 1979), pp. 231-32, under no. 25, fig. A.

Eitner, Lorenz E. A. Géricault: His Life and Work (London: Orbis, 1983), pp. 182, 185, fig. 174.

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Hook, Philip. "The Hans E. Bühler Collection of Works by Géricault." Christie's Review of the Season (1986), pp. 48-49, ill.

"Acquisitions/1985." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 14 (1986), p. 220, no. 129, ill.

Lüthy, Hans A. "Master Drawings by Géricault." Master Drawings 23/24, no. 4 (1985-86), p. 566.

Wintersgill, Donald. "The Bühler-Géricault Sale." Art & Auction 8, no. 7 (January 1986), p. 114.

Hoving, Thomas. "Money and Masterpieces." Connoisseur 216, no. 899 (December 1986), p. 98.

Fredericksen, Burton B. Masterpieces of Painting in the J. Paul Getty Museum. Rev. ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1988), unpaginated, no. 36, ill.

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Eitner, Lorenz E. A., and Steven A. Nash. Géricault, 1791-1824, exh. cat. (San Francisco: The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, 1989), pp. 25, 61, no. 42, ill.

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Zerner, Henri. Géricault (Paris: Editions Carré, 1997), pp. 83-85, fig. 22.

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Lemeux-Fraitot, Sidonie. "Géricault, un maître de la tête d'étude." In Géricault au coeur de la création romantique: études pour 'Le Radeau de la Méduse,' exh. cat. Bruno Chenique et al. (Clermont-Ferrand: Musée d'art Roger-Quilliot, 2012), pp. 44, 47.

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Bindman, David. Review of Géricault: Bilder auf Leben und Tod. Frankfurt and Ghent. The Burlington Magazine 156, no. 1330 (January 2014), p. 56, fig. 73.

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