Three Lovers

Object Details


Three Lovers


Théodore Géricault (French, 1791 - 1824)




1817 - 1820


Oil on canvas


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.

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.

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, (London), 1993
Neo-Classicism and Romanticism in French Painting, 1774 - 1826 (1994) (Cat. 16)
  • Richard L. Feigen & Co. (New York), 1994
  • Richard L. Feigen & Co. (London), 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
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