Théodore Géricault was a French painter, sculptor, draftsman and lithographer of the early 19th century and is considered one of the most important representatives of French Romanticism. One of his most famous works is the painting “Mounted Trumpeters of Napoleon’s Imperial Guard”, in which he captured two of his favorite themes – the horse and the splendor of the military.
The painting depicts several trumpeters of Napoleon’s Imperial Guard in their red uniforms and with the typical high plumes of feathers on their helmets. The scene takes place against a somber background, which draws attention to the people and their horses. However, Gericault is not portraying individuals here, but a romantic ideal of the “dashing soldier”. For even though the depiction of the officers is reminiscent of actual portraits, the painting is entirely of his imagination.
The entire composition of the painting is based on strong visual contrasts. To depict the central figures, Gericault uses short brushstrokes that seem thrown down, whereas for the background he takes more time and works with broad, sweeping strokes. The color scheme also draws the eye to the central figures: the background is kept dark, almost unrecognizable, and especially the main figure in the center of the picture stands out clearly.