A study of a nude model is often called an academy (académie in French), because such paintings and drawings have been standard exercises in art schools, or academies, since the sixteenth century. This work depicts a model in a pose found in at least two other paintings. One of these, now in the Musée Bonnat, Bayonne, is widely accepted as a work made by Gericault, possibly between 1810 and 1813, in the studio of Pierre-Narcisse Guérin (1774–1833).
?Nicolas-Toussaint Charlet, Paris (until d. 1845; his estate sale, Hôtel des Ventes, Paris, April 2, 1846, one of two works under no. 376 [sic, should be no. 276], as "Étude académique, par Géricault, une autre du même," for Fr 73); ?François-Martial Marcille (until d. 1856; his estate sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, January 14–15, 1857, either no. 237, as "Académie" by Gericault, for Fr 37 to Fleury or no. 238, as "Académie" by Gericault, for Fr 41 to Anguyot, possibly as agent for Marcille fils); ?his son, Camille Marcille, Paris (by 1867–d. 1875; his estate sale, "deuxième vente," Hôtel Drouot, Paris, March 8–9, 1876, no. 16, as "Académie d'après le modèle Pécota," by Gericault, for Fr 120); Viette, Blamont (Doubs), France; Pequignot, Blamont; Olympe Fresard (or Frezard) Pequignot, Blamont (until 1939; sale, Blamont, 1939, no catalogue); Jacques Beucler, Hérimoncourt (Doubs) (1939–52; sold to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of Fifty Centuries," November 15, 1970–February 15, 1971, no. 363.
Charles Clément. "Catalogue de l'œuvre de Gericault—Peinture." Gazette des beaux-arts 23 (September 1, 1867), p. 275, no. 9, under the heading "Peintures (1810 à 1812)," refers to it as "Deux académies d'homme sur la même toile," 81 x 45 cm, formerly in the Charlet collection and presently in the Marcille collection [possibly this picture].
Charles Clément. "Géricault (1er article)." Gazette des beaux-arts 22 (March 1, 1867), p. 221, mentions studies after the model executed by Gericault in Guérin's studio, among them "trois ou quatre ouvrages du même genre chez MM. Marcille," possibly including this picture.
Charles Clément. Géricault: étude biographique et critique avec le catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre du maître. 2nd ed. (1st ed. 1867). Paris, 1868, pp. 35, 279, no. 9, calls it "Académie" and describes it as "Homme debout: de ses deux mains il tient une corde sur laquelle il tire," 80 x 64 cm, in the Marcille collection (possibly this picture).
Charles Clément. Géricault, étude biographique et critique avec le catalogue raisonné de l'œuvre du maitre. 3rd ed. (1st ed. 1867). Paris, 1879, pp. 35, 279, no. 9, possibly this picture.
"Recent Accessions." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 11 (November 1952), p. 102, ill., as "A Nude Study" by Gericault; states that it was painted in Guérin's studio when Gericault was about twenty years old .
Lorenz E. A. Eitner. "Deux œuvres inconnues de Géricault au Musée d'Art Moderne." Bulletin, Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels 2 (June 1953), p. 56 n. 3, dates it about 1810–12; identifies it as Clément 1879, no. 9.
Alfred Werner. "A Study of Géricault." Arts Digest 29 (April 15, 1955), ill. p. 17, as "Nude Study" by Gericault.
Charles Sterling and Margaretta M. Salinger. French Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 2, XIX Century. New York, 1966, p. 20, ill., call it "Study of a Nude Man" by Gericault; discuss a similar painting of a nude model which also corresponds to Clément's (1879) description (collection Lord Harewood, Leeds).
Introduction by Kenneth Clark. Masterpieces of Fifty Centuries. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1970, p. 308, no. 363, ill., as by Gericault.
Philippe Grunchec inTout l'oeuvre peint de Gericault. Paris, 1978, pp. 105-6, no. 127A, ill., calls it "Homme nu tirant un corde".
Philippe Grunchec. "Géricault: Problèmes de méthodes." Revue de l'art no. 43 (1979), p. 41, states that an 1867 letter from Charles Cournault to Clément describing the Bayonne picture undoubtedly proves that work's attribution to Gericault; concludes that the MMA and Harewood pictures are not by Gericault (see Grunchec 1978, p. 106, under no. 127).
Howard Hibbard. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1980, p. 396, no. 726, ill. p. 402 (color), as "Study of a Nude Man (Academy)" by Gericault; dates it about 1811.
Germain Bazin. Théodore Géricault, étude critique, documents et catalogue raisonné. Vol. 2, L'Œuvre: Période de formation. Paris, 1987, pp. 269–70, 276 n. 8, pp. 363–64, no. 122, ill., as "Académie d'homme debout, tirant sur une corde" by an unknown artist; of the three versions of this composition, lists only the Bayonne picture as autograph; believes the MMA and Harewood pictures to have been painted by two different students during the same studio session, seeing the same pose from slightly different angles; suggests that the Bayonne work might be a later reworking of this academic exercise; claims that the MMA picture is most likely Clément 1879, no. 9, as Clément had not seen the Bayonne picture (see Grunchec 1979); tentatively adds Charlet and Martial Marcille to the early provenance of the MMA work.
As with another painting of this model or a similar one, portrayed in the same pose from a slightly different angle (collection Lord Harewood, Leeds; Bazin 1987, no. 123), this work was formerly attributed to Gericault. Historically, each has also been confused with a Gericault painting of an apparently different model, whose pose is nearly identical to ours, but who is shown standing in water (Musée Bonnat, Bayonne; Bazin 1987, no. 121).
Eitner, for example, initially (1953) believed the Metropolitan picture to be by Gericault, but later revised his opinion (letter of October 17, 1975, department files), asserting that the work catalogued by Clément (1868, no. 9) is the academy now at Bayonne, and adding that the Harewood picture is of the same model as ours, but more likely to be by Gericault.