The officer of the horse rangers of the Imperial Guard, going on the attack

Théodore Géricault • Painting, 1812, 349×266 cm
About the artwork
Art form: Painting
Subject and objects: Portrait, Animalism, Battle scene
Style of art: Romanticism
Technique: Oil
Materials: Canvas
Date of creation: 1812
Size: 349×266 cm
Artwork in selections: 41 selections

Description of the artwork «The officer of the horse rangers of the Imperial Guard, going on the attack»

Picture of Theodore Gericault "The officer of the horse rangers of the Imperial Guard during the attack" called the grandest symbol of the outgoing Napoleon era. She became the debut of the artist, who at the time of writing was only 21 years old.

Jericho began to look for an image capable of adequately expressing time, during the campaign of Napoleon’s army against Russia - in France he was perceived with genuine enthusiasm. The artist spent much of his time in the Louvre, whose collection had grown extraordinarily and enriched as a result of the predatory trophies brought by Napoleon’s army from everywhere. In the tastes of Gericault were quite omnivorous: he copied the masters of very different manners, but the main guideline of that period was for him Rubens. Conceiving the “Officer of the horse rangers”, the ambitious young artist hoped to contend with him in the richness of texture and color. Possessing a swift and confident manner of writing, Zheriko did not use a preliminary drawing when working on the “Officer of Horse Rangers”, but worked at once with oil. True, before that he made many small oil sketches - the artist taught him this method. Pierre Guerin. However, the final pictorial solution was not found.

One day, on his way to a holiday in Saint-Cloud, Géricault saw a cart creeping ahead of some poor craftsman. Suddenly a thunderstorm began. The frightened horse reared, but got entangled in the harness and began to frantically fight, trying to free herself. Her eyes were filled with blood, her face was spattered with foam, and under the skin glinting in the sun in the apples there were muscles. This image of a powerful and hot horse bursting with all its might shook Gericault and became a decisive impulse for the “Horse Rangers Officer”.

Before us is a land torn by battle. The sky was clouded with smoke, the space around it is lit up with purple reflections. But a brilliant officer in a black uniform, scarlet mentiku and a bear cap with the Sultan has no fear, no panic, no rush. His gaze is not just calm - it is cold, like the blade of his saber. The horse, covered with a leopard skin, reared in a furious rush, fragments of guns were visible somewhere and the enemy running under the onslaught of artillery, the atmosphere was extremely tense. However, the rider does not lose composure, he turned in the saddle to give the signal to attack: everything around him is burning and crumbling, but he is sure and firm.

It is interesting that at the Salon of 1812, which awarded Gericault a large gold medal, the picture was presented as a portrait of Lieutenant Robert Dieudonne, but this name was subsequently safely forgotten. And does it really matter, what was the name of the man who posed for Géricault? After all, in fact, “The Officer of the Horse Chasers” is the least individual portrait. On the contrary, the picture is the broadest generalization. This is not an image of a specific officer, but a portrait of the whole of France, which at that time was on the threshold of world domination, but is about to fall into the abyss of a national catastrophe.

"The rush of the officer of the rangers is a leap into nothing- writes Valery Prokofiev, the author of the monograph "Theodore Gericault". - In it, everything is permeated by the tragic overstrain of forces and passions, in which the energy of the French people, who were awakened by the revolution and seduced by the glory of the military glory of the empire, was destined to be overwhelmed so quickly. ”

Author: Anna Yesterday