Theodore Gericault (Born 1791) was an influential French lithographer and painter who was born in Rouen, France. Although he died young, he was one of the pioneers of the Romantic Movement. He was educated in classical figure composition by Pierre-Narcisse Guerin and in the tradition of English sporting art by Carle Vernet. Gericault soon left the classroom and chose to study at the Louvre, where he copied paintings by Remrandt, Velazquez, Titian, and Rubens. During this same period, he discovered the vitality that was lacking in the school of Neoclassicism that was prevailing. Gericault spent much of his time in Versailles, where he gained his knowledge of the action and the anatomy of horses, and where he found the stables of places open to him. His first major work was exhibited in 1812 at the Paris Salon. The work which was titled The Charging Chasseur revealed his interest in the depiction of contemporary subject mater and the influence of the style of Rubens.
This ambitious, youthful and monumental success was followed by a change in direction in Gericault’s artwork: for the next several years he produced a series of small studies of cavalrymen and horses. In 1814, he exhibited Wounded Cuirassier at the Salon, a work that was less well received but more labored. In a fit of disappointment, Gericault entered the army and served for a time in Versailles’ garrison. For nearly two years, he underwent a self-imposed study of composition and figure construction, all the while evidencing an expressive force and a personal predilection for drama.