In 1819, Théodore Géricault presented his large historic painting, The Raft of the Medusa, which elicited public admiration but also repelled many precisely because of the tragic circumstances in which the ship sank. Moreover, the canvas denounced the government’s political bungling, which did not sit well at all with the existing powers. Géricault’s monumental composition represented a new direction in painting and sounds more contemporary than ever as it echoes recent events around Lampedusa.
Soon after, Géricault produced a series of portraits of mental patients, deciding to abandon the conventional ways of depicting madness and rather highlighting the personality and humanity of his subjects. The exhibition aims to show that far from being a painter of tragic and insane subjects, Géricault, above all, desired to represent the margins of everyday life with a profound empathy and compassion for the protagonists of his paintings.
Various international museums have also lent their paintings, drawings and prints by Eugène Delacroix, Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, Francisco Goya, Johan Heinrich Füssli and Adolf Friedrich Menzel for this exhibition, allowing us to examine the artist’s work in a broader context.
Museum of Fine Arts Website