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Head of a Guillotined Man

A work made of oil on panel.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of oil on panel.




Jean Louis André Théodore Géricault
French, 1791-1824

About this artwork

Théodore Géricault painted this macabre image directly from life. The artist is known to have acquired corpses from his local morgue to study anatomy and the effects of decomposition. Surrounding himself with the stench of decay, he produced several paintings of decapitated heads and severed limbs. By depicting this graying and lifeless head upon on a blood-stained cloth laid over a wooden table, Géricault also referenced—perhaps ironically—the long history of still-life painting in Western art. The head probably belonged to a convicted criminal. At that time in France, executions were carried out by the guillotine, a bladed device that sliced through the necks of its victims.


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Painting and Sculpture of Europe


Jean Louis André Théodore Géricault


Head of a Guillotined Man


France (Artist's nationality)




Oil on panel


16 1/8 × 14 15/16 in. (41 × 38 cm)

Credit Line

Through prior gift of William Wood Prince; L. L. and A. S. Coburn Endowment; Charles H. and Mary F. S. Worcester Collection

Reference Number


IIIF Manifest  The International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) represents a set of open standards that enables rich access to digital media from libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions around the world.

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Extended information about this artwork

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