Three Lovers

Object Details

Title:

Three Lovers

Artist/Maker(s):

Théodore Géricault (French, 1791 - 1824)

Culture:

French

Date:

1817 - 1820

Medium:

Oil on canvas

Dimensions:

22.5 x 29.8 cm (8 7/8 x 11 3/4 in.)

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Théodore Géricault's only known erotic painting, this small oil sketch depicts two lovers locked in a passionate embrace while their languid companion calmly watches from the left. The woman's nudity and relaxed pose evoke the classical tradition of representing repose after lovemaking, a tradition that is also evoked by the way her voluptuous figure complements the statue of Venus above. Encoiled in her lover's arms and with her legs provocatively exposed, the woman in white is an active participant in the amorous act rather than a passive object. With a modern directness, Géricault captured the intensity and energy of human sexuality in a manner very different from the idealizing conventions of his age.

Géricault 's expressive handling of line and paint accords with the passionate energy of the subject matter. Despite the small size and sketchy nature of this painting, Géricault made it as an independent work of art, intended for close private viewing.

Provenance
1817/1820 - possibly 1824

Théodore Géricault, French, 1791 - 1824 (Paris, France), probably retained in the artist's studio, possibly until his death, 1824.

before 1868 -

Jean-Pierre Dantan, 1800 - 1869 (Paris, France)

- 1992

Private Collection [sold, Ader Tajan, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, June 26, 1992, lot 48]

- 1995

Cycnus Ltd. (St. Hélier, Jersey, Channel Islands), sold through Matthiesen Fine Art Ltd. to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1995.

Exhibitions
Fifty Paintings, 1535-1825: To Celebrate Ten Years of Collaboration between the Matthiesen Gallery, London, and Stair Sainty Matthiesen, New York (1993) (Cat. 49)
  • Matthiesen Fine Art Ltd., (London), 1993
  • Stair Sainty Matthiesen, (New York), 1993
Neo-Classicism and Romanticism in French Painting, 1774 - 1826 (1994) (Cat. 16)
  • Richard L. Feigen & Co. (London), 1994
  • Richard L. Feigen & Co. (New York), 1994
Géricault: la folie d'un monde (April 21 to July 31, 2006) (Cat. 71)
  • Musée des Beaux-Arts (Lyon), April 21 to July 31, 2006
Bibliography

Clément, Charles. Géricault: étude biographique et critique avec le catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre du maître (Paris: Didier, 1868), p. 309, no. 131.

Clément, Charles. Géricault: étude biographique et critique avec le catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre du maître. 3rd ed. (Paris: Didier, 1879; repr., Paris: Léonce Laget, 1973), p. 309, no. 131.

Thuillier, Jacques, and Philippe Grunchec. Tout l'oeuvre peint de Gericault (Paris: Flammarion, 1978), p. 127, no. 275.

Grunchec, Philippe. "Un tableau érotique de Géricault retrouvé." Connaissance des Arts, no. 484 (June 1992), p. 125, ill.

Ader Tajan, Hôtel Drouot, Paris. Tableaux anciens. June 26, 1992, unpaginated, lot 48, ill., entry by Philippe Grunchec.

Fifty Paintings, 1535-1825: To Celebrate Ten Years of Collaboration between the Matthiesen Gallery, London, and Stair Sainty Matthiesen, New York, exh. cat. (London: Matthiesen Fine Art; New York: Stair Sainty Matthiesen, 1993), pp. 198-207, no. 49, ill., entry by Lorenz Eitner.

Nochlin, Linda. "Géricault, or the Absence of Women." October, no. 68 (Spring 1994), p. 57n20.

Neo-Classicism and Romanticism in French Painting, 1774-1826, exh. cat. (New York and London: Richard L. Feigen & Co., 1994), pp. 52-54, no. 16, ill.

Eitner, Lorenz. "Erotic Drawings by Gericault." Master Drawings 34, no. 4 (Winter 1996), pp. 375-89, fig. 1.

Jaffé, David. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 50, ill.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 6th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2001), p. 133, ill.

Pernoud, Emmanuel. Le Bordel en peinture: l'art contre le goût (Paris: Adam Biro, 2001), p. 7, ill.

Hurd, Pippa. Icons of Erotic Art (Munich, Berlin, London, and New York: Prestel, 2004), pp. 64-65, 132, ill.

Chenique, Bruno, et al. Géricault: la folie d'un monde, exh. cat. (Lyon: Musée des beaux-arts, with Hazan, 2006), pp. 139, 228, no. 71, fig. 87.

Fehlmann, Marc. Review of Géricault: la folie d'un monde. Lyon, Musée des beaux-arts. Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide 5, no. 2 (Autumn 2006), fig. 13.

Calasso, Roberto. La Folie Baudelaire. New ed. (Siena: Monte dei Paschi di Siena, 2011), pp. 152, 416, fig. 119.

Sotheby's, Paris. Tableaux et dessins anciens et du XIXe siècle. June 26, 2014, p. 98, under lot 83.

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