Théodore Géricault, The Coal Waggon, a black chalk watercolour


London through the eyes of a Frenchman

Although he attempted some formal training (including a spell in the studio of Guérin with Delacroix), the greatest influence in Géricault's artistic education was the four years he spent copying in the Musée du Louvre. His early Charging Chasseur (1812, Musée du Louvre, Paris) shows the sensuous flamboyance that he learnt from the baroque masters, especially Rubens.

After a period in Italy where he worked on contemporary scenes in an exalted classical style, Géricault (1791-1824) returned to France. The intensity of his effort in painting his masterpiece The Raft of the Medusa (1819, Louvre) led to a nervous breakdown. To recover, he moved to London, where he displayed The Raft of the Medusa in paying exhibitions. In England he worked on less grand themes in watercolour and lithography from 1820 to 1821. On his return to Paris his health began to fail him, and apart from a starkly realistic series of Portraits of the Insane ( about 1822), he finished little before his early death.

Géricault produced several drawings, paintings and a lithograph on the theme of coal-carting while in London. In this one, St Paul's Cathedral is visible in the background, but the scene shows a generalised 'Route de Londre' (sic) written on the signpost and cannot be exactly placed.

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More information


L. Eitner, Géricault: his life and work (London, Orbis, 1983)

J. Rowlands, Master drawings and watercolou (London, The British Museum Press, 1984)


Height: 217.000 mm
Width: 277.000 mm

Museum number

PD 1968-2-10-28


Bequeathed by César Mange de Hauke


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