About This Artwork

Jean Louis André Théodore Géricault
French, 1791-1824

Turkish Cavalier in Combat, c. 1818

Brush and brown wash, heightened with white gouache over black chalk, with blue wash on brown laid paper
280 x 220 mm

The Regenstein Collection, 1994.178

Soldiers and horses were among Géricault’s favorite subjects, symbolizing energy, emotion, and individuality. In its laser-like focus on one cavalry soldier and his charging horse in the heat of battle, this drawing’s romantic intensity departs radically from the Classical restraint of many works of the period. Géricault exoticized his horseman, giving him African features and clothing him in the garb of an Ottoman mamluk, a caste of Muslim slave soldiers who fought for their indepe-dence in Egypt in the early 1800s. The artist was politically progressive for his time and championed the cause of liberty with this image. However, mamluks were most often of Turkic, Coptic, or Circassian descent, and Géricault’s depiction may not have been historically accurate.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

The Art Institute of Chicago, “Maineri to Miró: The Regenstein Collection Since 1975,” April 22-July 16 2000, cat. 28.

The Art Institute of Chicago, "Gods and (Super)heroes: Drawing in an Age of Revolution", November 16, 2017 - April 1, 2018.

Publication History

Germain Bazin, Théodore Géricault. Etude critiques, documents et catalogue raisonné, 7 (Paris, 1997), p. 285, cat. 2773 (ill.).

James N. Wood, with commentaries by Debra N. Mancoff, Treasures from the Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, 2000), p.188 (ill.).

Suzanne Folds McCullagh, “‘A Lasting Monument:’ The Regenstein Collection at The Art Institute of Chicago,” The Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies 26:1 (2000), pp. 12-13.

Jay A. Clarke, “Haitian Horseman, c. 1818,” The Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies 26:1 (2000), pp. 66-67, cat. 28 (ill.).

Bruno Chenique, Les Chevaux Géricault (Paris, 2002), p. 46 (ill.).

Ownership History

Duc d'Aumale (son of King Louis Phillippe) [invoice]. Duc de Chartres, after 1910 [invoice]. Private Collection, before 1939-about 1994 [invoice]; sold by Galerie de la Scala, Paris, to the Art Institute, 1994.

Interpretive Resources

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