The Madman

Géricault, Théodore

Primary Category: Visual Arts / Painting/Drawing

Genre: Oil on canvas

Annotated by:
Winkler, Mary
  • Date of entry: Feb-27-1998
  • Last revised: Jan-25-1999


This three-quarter portrait of a man is painted in brown tones which, by accentuating the contrast with his skin and the white cravat surrounding his neck, allows the viewer to concentrate on the man's troubled features. His hair is ill kempt, and his averted eyes seem concentrated on some inner grief or turmoil.


Géricault's romanticism led him to explore a broad spectrum of human experiences. His portraits of the insane exist on a continuum with his studies of heroes and aristocrats. This portrait, and those of other asylum inmates were painted for a physician friend, Dr. Georget, and are meant as studies of types of mental illness. This work is both compassionate and humane, suggesting a sympathy that evades medicalization.

Primary Source

Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Ghent