The J. Paul Getty Museum

Sailboat on a Raging Sea

Object Details


Sailboat on a Raging Sea


Théodore Géricault (French, 1791 - 1824)




about 1818–1819


Brush and brown wash, blue watercolor, opaque watercolor, over black chalk on brown laid paper

Object Number:



15.2 × 24.7 cm (6 × 9 3/4 in.)

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Object Description

In this drawing, made during a trip to Le Havre to observe the motion of the waves, Théodore Géricault showed his love of action and the technique of animated brushwork he used to express it. He intensified the dramatic effect of the ship pitching in the waves by applying accents of white gouache highlighting to the tumultuous waves, the edges of the storm-tossed ship's sails and riggings, and bits of the cloudy sky.

Géricault made this drawing around 1818, when he was working out the composition of his masterpiece, The Raft of the Medusa, by carefully studying and sketching ships and water conditions.

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Art Market, Paris

Exhibition of Watercolors by J.M.W. Turner (1957)
  • King's Lynn, July to August 1957
150th Anniversary Loan Exhibition of Paintings and Watercolours by J. M. W. Turner, R.A. (November 1 to December 2, 1967) (introduction by E. Joll)
  • Thomas Agnew & Sons, Ltd. (London), November 1 to December 2, 1967
Master Drawings by Géricault (June 7, 1985 to January 5, 1986) (catalogue by P. Grunchec)
  • Pierpont Morgan Library (New York), June 7 to July 31, 1985
  • San Diego Museum of Art (San Diego), August 31 to October 20, 1985
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, November 9, 1985 to January 5, 1986
Géricault: Romantic Paintings and Drawings (January 28 to March 26, 1989)
  • California Palace of the Legion of Honor (San Francisco), January 28 to March 26, 1989
Géricault (October 10, 1991 to January 6, 1992) (catalogue by S. Lavessière)
  • Galeries nationales du Grand Palais (Paris), October 10, 1991 to January 6, 1992
18th and 19th Century Drawings (March 15 to May 29, 1994)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), March 15 to May 29, 1994
The Compositional Drawing from the 16th to the 19th Century (April 16 to June 30, 1996)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), April 16 to June 30, 1996
To Create a Living Art: 19th Century Drawings (May 1 to July 15, 2001)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), May 1 to July 15, 2001
Defining Modernity: European Drawings, 1800-1900 (June 5 to September 9, 2007)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), June 5 to September 9, 2007
Capturing Nature's Beauty: Three Centuries of French Landscapes (July 28 to November 1, 2009)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), July 28 to November 1, 2009
Noir: The Romance of Black in 19th Century French Drawings and Prints (February 9 to May 15, 2016)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), February 9 to May 15, 2016