The Raft of the Medusa by Theodore Géricault is one of the most famous paintings in the Louvre. The grisly tale of shipwreck, survival and cannibalism has been told and retold, but what do you know about this painting that made it so controversial to its 19th century audience?
In this talk we will explore how the painting elevated a heart-stopping, real-life contemporary tragedy to a subject worthy of the History Painting genre, ushering in a new Romantic aesthetic which focused on extremes of emotion. Looking beyond the writhing figures and dismembered body parts of Gericault’s monumental canvas to the political and historical context, we will also shed light on the painting as a comment on Restoration politics in France, and a document in the abolitionist debate of the early 19th century.
Caroline Rossiter, a U.K. native, is an adoptive Parisienne and has been wandering Paris' narrow streets and leafy boulevards since 2003. She holds an undergraduate degree in French and Art History with a specialty in 19th-century art and literature, and pursued graduate studies in Art History at Paris 4 La Sorbonne, writing a thesis on popular imagery and caricature in Revolutionary and Napoleonic Paris. Her writing has been published in Apollo Magazine, the Times Literary Supplement, Conde Nast Traveler and WSJ Magazine. She teaches specialist English and Art History at Universities Paris 3 and Paris 4.
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