La course (The race) (BM 1868,1114.290)
Racing scene, with in the foreground a racehorse ridden by jockey in striped racing silks and cap, and beyond two further riders, shown more faintly, and brandishing their riding crops; the furthest rider is slightly behind the other two, who are level; from a series of eight; lettered state, before number in top right corner. 1823
Theodore Gericault is best known for his dramatic and emotionally charged works, particularly his masterpiece 'The Raft of the Medusa'. The painting depicts the aftermath of a shipwreck, with survivors clinging to a makeshift raft as they await rescue. The painting caused controversy when it was first exhibited, as it was seen as a political commentary on the incompetence of the French government. Gericault was also interested in the human form and produced a series of portraits and studies of horses. His lithographs, produced using a printing technique that allowed greater detail and tonal range than traditional printing methods, were highly influential in the development of the medium. Despite his short career (he died at the age of 32), Gericault had a profound influence on the development of French art and is considered one of the leading figures of the Romantic movement.