Théodore Géricault carried this little book around in his pocket for more than two years, from 1812 to 1814. He used it to make rapid sketches from life and to copy motifs from Old Master paintings and ancient sculpture, as well as to note ideas for future projects. The sketchbook clearly illustrates his broad range of interests, though it focuses on subjects such as horses and lions, which interested Géricault throughout his career.
After Géricault's early death at the age of thirty-two in 1824, the contents of his studio, including thirty-three sketchbooks, were sold at auction. Most of these sketchbooks were later taken apart, and their individual pages have scattered among various private and public collections. Only six remain intact today. The Getty Museum's sketchbook is nearly complete, with a few detached single sheets showing that a few pages were cut or torn out at some point.