“Running free horses in Rome”, Theodore Gericault – description of the painting

Description of the picture:

Free Horse Racing in Rome – Theodore Gericault. 1817. Paper on canvas. 40 5 x sixty cm

   Gericault arrives in Italy in a very gloomy mood – after Waterloo in France, the Bourbons return to power, and now Napoleon’s supporters suffer persecution. The mood of French society leaves much to be desired. Someone hastily immigrated, someone hid, someone managed to be executed.

   In one thousand eight hundred and sixteen, Gericault was in Rome. Here he visits museums, copies the majestic painters and becomes an eyewitness to the Roman carnival. As part of the celebration, races were organized on Corso Street, where free horses participated (without harness).

   The painter made the greatest memory of the start, or rather the second in front of him. Gericault already loved horses, but here he saw in their feral guise – strong stallions were trying to get ahead, strong young men kept them a little. It was almost impossible to harness this power. The delighted master immediately conceived a picture where this irreconcilable struggle of an animal and a man would find its embodiment.

   But first, 10 sketches were made, the composition was thought out, and then meticulously transferred to the canvas. We see a mixture of human bodies and horse bodies. They are connected together by force and muscle. Another second and the horses will break loose, rushing along the street, overtaking each other.

   The creator uses to a greater extent the dark spectrum, resorting to his favorite technique – contrasting highlighting of areas, thus placing accents in such a way.

   The composition is complex. Gericault skillfully and harmoniously combines the majestic building elements, moreover, on different planes (middle and distant), people and animal heroes, written in a lively manner.

   This is some kind of evil dramatic fate: the artist who admired the horses and sang them in his own paintings, they specifically destroyed. The awkward horse threw off the rider, and Gericault received a serious spinal injury, which, ultimately, immobilized him and led to early death. The romantic artist died at 30 three years old …"