Raft of the Medusa
Theodore Gericault,Raft of the Medusa, 1818-1819 [oil on canvas]491X716cm
The Raft of the Medusa was created by Theodore Gericault in the years 1818 and 1819 during the French Romantic period. This oil painting, which stands at a massive 491x716cm, was created to capture the tragedy of the Medusa.This essay discusses what the Raft of the Medusa was, the reasons behind why Theodore Gericault made this painting and the political impacts it had at the time it was made. The ‘Medusa’ was a french frigate that set sail in 1816 from Rochefort heading to Senegalese. Harris (2011) states that Gericault read an account by survivors about the tragedy of the shipwreck and was intrigued to learn more. He learnt that the shipwreck was the fault of the ships captain ‘Duroy de Chaumereys’ who was an incompetent sailor and hadn't sailed in years. His poor navigation skills put them 100 miles off course and in the way of a sand bar. Hirsch-Allen (2004) describes when the ship crashed there was only room on the life boats for 250 people of the 400 present. The 150 patrons not able to get on the life rafts were forced to salvage what they could to create a make shift raft to be towed to safety by the other life rafts, although soon after agreeing to this the ropes connecting the ships was severed and the Raft of the Medusa was left stranded. The majority of the survivors on the raft died the first night, others died of exposure, starvation and some just fell overboard. The soldiers and sailors began a mutiny being the strongest onboard, and by the end of the second night another 65 people were dead. By the fourth day all the remaining passengers had turned to cannibalism in order to stay alive. Another 9 days went past and by that point there were only 15 men alive on the raft. The oil painting ‘The Raft of The Medusa’ shows the moment the men see the rescue ship and attempt to signal it. Gericault has perfectly depicted the struggle and strain the men went...
References: - Jeffaris, P. (2005). Raft of the Medusa Retrieved June 2, 2013 from http:// www.thompsondunn.com/newsletter2/page16.html - Museum Secrets. Painting a manifesto. (2013.) Retrieved May 25, 2013 from http:// museumsecrets.tv/dossier.php?o=71&pmo=65 - Harris, J.C. (2006). Raft of the Medusa Retrieved from http://archpsyc.jamanetwork.com/ article.aspx?articleid=209640 - Hirsch-Allen, J. (2004). Retrieved from http://individual.utoronto.ca/jake/docs/classes/ RaftofMedusa.pdf - Medusa. Neo Classic/Romanticism. (n.d.). Retrieved June 1, 2013 from http:// faculty.etsu.edu/kortumr/HUMT2320/neoclassictoromantic/htmdescriptionpages/ medusa.htm - image Retrieved from: http://thestarvingarthistorian.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/10429the-raft-of-the-medusa-theodore-gericault.jpg
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