Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Raft of the Medusa

I sought out this enormous oil painting, "The Raft of the Medusa" by Théodore Géricault (1791-1824), when I visited the Louvre. The 23' x 16' canvas depicts the survivors of an 1816 shipwreck off the coast of Mauritania. Of the 149 people who piled aboard the raft, only 15 survived--by means of cannibalism. To prepare for the painting, Géricault sketched bodies at the morgue and brought home severed limbs to study their decay. A bas relief of the image adorns his grave at Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.

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