​Théodore Géricault - The Raft of the Medusao, 1818 - 1819, 491 x 716 cm, Musée de Louvre in Paris



Description and interpretation of the famous painting'The Raft of the Medusa' by Théodore Géricault!​Théodore Géricault - The Raft of the Medusa

Théodore Géricault - The Raft of Medusa

The impressive painting shows an overcrowded and fragile raft on the sea. Not only is the theme unusual - the painting also stands out from so many others with its size of more than 35 square metres.

The men pile up like a pyramid. The top man swings a white cloth and draws attention to himself. The reason for the hope is only very small on the horizon - who does not stand straight before the gigantic canvas, must now squint the eyes together. And indeed, a small ship can be seen.

Only in front is a bearded man completely unimpressed by the approaching rescue - he mourns for the dead at his feet.

Hard to believe, but what the French painter Géricault brought to the canvas is based on true events:

In 1816, the frigate Medusa was sent to Senegal to protect the colony. However, the Medusa was shipwrecked. The controversial Captain de Chaumareys ordered the construction of a raft, on which about 150 people should find place. The 6 lifeboats that were on board the Medusa were to pull the construct. After a short time, however, the ropes were cut and the people on the raft were left to their fate. Horrible conditions quickly prevailed, even two survivors reported cannibalism later in their experience report. After twelve days, the raft was recovered with only 15 people alive.

The French saw the event as an "allegory réelle" and equated the "Medusa" with the "state ship". Therefore, the allusion to the painting, which Gericault carefully called "Scene of a Shipwreck", was well understood by contemporaries and exhibition visitors.

© the artinspector / alexandra tuschka