Horses and Riders (recto); Horses (verso)
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Théodore Géricault
French, 1817 - 1818
8 1/4 x 11 in.

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An enthusiastic horseman himself, Théodore Géricault was fascinated with the movement and power of these animals. In this page from one of his many dismantled sketchbooks, both the recto and verso contain numerous drawings of horses. On the front or recto, Géricault experimented with placing different liveried officers on the backs of rearing horses. Although he varied the uniform, helmets, and swords of the officers, the prancing animals set at various angles appear to have the most energy. Géricault's animated pencil moved vigorously across the sheet, creating flowing tails and prancing feet with quick, sure strokes.

On the back or verso, Géricault concentrated on bold renderings of horses alone. He practiced on four heads in the corner, while the central figures focus more on stance. The swirling lines that effortlessly suggest the head and manes of the animals blend into strong, muscular bodies with the addition of shaded lines. These quick sketches contrast sharply with the painstaking detail of a single hoof, where Géricault showed the nail studs of the horseshoe, the hairy fetlock, and strong bone structure with careful precision.

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Verso: Horses
Verso: Horses