Théodore Géricault


In September 1817, the twenty-six-year-old Géricault began work on his epoch-defining painting Raft of the Medusa, generating hundreds of drawings and employing a wide range of models for his figure studies. Although, according to the testimony of survivors, there were no black men on the raft, Géricault included three in his painting. In this sheet, the artist combined hatching and rubbing the soft chalk to create a sculpturally modeled surface that is defined and enlivened by the fall of light. The effort of the model to hold the pose is evident in the carefully closed mouth, the flared nostrils, and the lift of his chin as he gazes at the distance.

Théodore Géricault
French; 1791–1824
Head of a Black Man, 1818–19
Black chalk