About This Artwork

Jean Louis André Théodore Géricault
French, 1791-1824

Swiss Sentry at the Louvre, 1819

Lithograph on ivory wove paper (discolored to cream)
397 x 330 mm (image); 491 x 387 mm (sheet)

The Print and Drawing Fund; The Joseph Brooks Fair Fund, 2008.546

Spanning the rise and fall of the Napoleonic Empire, Théodore Géricault’s career culminated during the fractious period of the French Restoration. Though dimmed by brief and disenchanting military service (1815) and the disappointments of the Napoleonic era, he found in lithography an appropriate match for his awareness of the politics of contemporary France. While crossing the Tuileries gardens outside of the Musée du Louvre, a peg-legged French veteran at left confronts a sentry of the Swiss Royal Guard. When the Swiss officer moves to take up his musket, the veteran exposes the Napoleonic cross pinned to his chest, beneath his coat. Despite old age and handicap, the Napoleonic soldier gives a gesture of defiance, thus communicating patriotic pride during a postempiric period. This gesture meets with cheering from Bonapartist observers in the background.

Interpretive Resources

View mobile website