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The Artistic Heritage of Modena: The Art of Diplomacy


Lions in a Mountainous Landscape

Théodore Gericault (French, Rouen 1791–1824 Paris)

ca. 1818–20
Oil on wood
19 x 23 1/2 in. (48.3 x 59.7 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Nineteenth-Century, Modern, and Contemporary Funds and Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 2011
Accession Number:
  • Gallery Label

    This vigorous painting of six lions in a remote, spectrally illuminated lair—possibly intended to evoke the Atlas Mountains of Morocco—is an extraordinary example of Gericault’s spontaneous handling of paint. Rather than applying finishing touches to make a polished cabinet picture, the artist left the painting in a state known as an ébauche, a work prized for its strength of directly capturing a subject or effect. Until its acquisition by the Museum, the composition was known only by means of a replica (Musée du Louvre, Paris), which is thought to have been painted by an artist in Gericault’s circle.

  • Provenance

    Jean-Georges Schickler, Paris (until d. 1843); his son, baron Arthur de Schickler, Paris (1843–d. 1919); Schickler family, by descent (until 2010; sold through a European art dealer to Sayn-Wittgenstein); [Sayn-Wittgenstein Fine Art, New York, 2010–11; sold to MMA]

  • References

    Charles Clément. Géricault, étude biographique et critique avec le catalogue raisonné de l'œuvre du maitre. 3rd ed. [1st ed. 1867]. Paris, 1879 [reprinted in Lorenz Eitner, "Charles Clément: Gericault," New York, 1974, pp. 293, 451, no. 68], calls it "Lions" and describes it as "trois lions et trois lionnes accroupis ou couchés près de débris et d'ossements," 47 x 58 1/2 cm, in the collection of M. Schickler; in his supplement, Eitner suggests that the work described by Clément might be a different picture (Ref. Bazin 1997, no. 2357).

    Philippe Grunchec. L'opera completa di Gericault. Milan, 1978, p. 109, no. 144, ill., calls it "Leoni accucciati," in a private collection, Paris; identifies it as Ref. Clément 1879, no. 68, stating that this connection and the quality of execution attest to the authenticity of this picture; considers the version in the Louvre (Ref. Bazin 1997, no. 2353) weak by comparison.

    Germain Bazin with documentation by Élisabeth Raffy. "Regard social et politique: Le séjour anglais et les heures de souffrance." Théodore Géricault, étude critique, documents et catalogue raisonné. 7, Paris, 1997, pp. 32–33, 153, no. 2354, ill., calls it "Groupe de lions" and catalogues it as author unknown, the result of his not having seen it in person, but notes the high regard in which Grunchec [Ref. 1978] held this work.

  • See also