Lions dans un paysage montagneux (c.1818-1820)

Géricault, Théodore (1791-1824)

Lions dans un paysage montagneux (Lions in a Mountainous Landscape)
Oil on wood, 48.3 x 59.7 cm
Metropolitan Museum of ArtNew York

This vigorous painting of six lions in a remote, spectrally illuminated lair—possibly intended to evoke the Atlas Mountains of Morocco—is an extraordinary example of Géricault’s spontaneous handling of paint. Rather than applying finishing touches to make a polished cabinet picture, the artist left the painting in a state known as an esquisse, or sketch, a work prized by fellow artists for its strength of directly capturing a subject or effect. Until its acquisition by the Museum, the composition was known only by means of a replica (Musée du LouvreParis), which is thought to have been painted by an artist in Géricault’s circle. (MET)