Press release

Girodet: Romantic Rebel

Installation dates: May 24 – August 27, 2006
Location: Special Exhibition Galleries, 2nd Floor
Press preview: Monday, May 22, 10:00 – noon

Girodet: Romantic Rebel is the first retrospective in the United States devoted to this celebrated French artist, Anne-Louis Girodet-Trioson, a favored but rebellious student of Jacques-Louis David. Girodet's idiosyncratic style fuses David's Neoclassical ideal with his own prescient Romantic vision. The exhibition brings together approximately 110 paintings and works on paper that reflect the artist's originality and the diversity of his works, from mythological subjects to portraits and representations of Napoleon's military triumphs. Girodet will be on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art from May 24 through August 27, 2006.

The exhibition is made possible by The Isaacson-Draper Foundation.

This exhibition was initiated by the Cleveland Museum of Art and organized by the musée du Louvre and the Réunion des musées nationaux, Paris, in collaboration with The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

The exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

The career of Anne-Louis Girodet-Trioson (1767–1824) was shaped by the dramatic social and political changes brought about by the French Revolution. The exhibition begins with paintings and drawings from his years as a student of David in the 1780s. The strong linear contours and sculptural modeling of these works demonstrate the artist's emulation of his master's Neoclassical model. Following the outbreak of the Revolution in 1789, Girodet asserted his artistic independence in an austere Pietà, painted for a provincial monastery. His final break with David, however, manifested itself in a mythological painting, The Sleep of Endymion (Louvre, Paris), which was exhibited to great acclaim at the Paris Salon in 1793.

Girodet subsequently eschewed the rationalism of the Neoclassical style in which he was trained in favor of a more imaginative mode, ranging from the spectral vision of Ossian Receiving the Spirits of the French Heroes, commissioned for Napoleon's retreat at Malmaison, to the apocalyptic Scene from a Deluge (Louvre, Paris). This monumental canvas, depicting three generations of a family balanced precariously over floodwaters, secured Girodet's ultimate triumph over David: in 1810 it was named the best history painting of the decade over David's Intervention of the Sabine Women (Louvre, Paris).

Girodet, like many of David's students, commemorated Napoleon's regime in portraits as well as history paintings. The exhibition will include one of his paintings of Napoleon in imperial costume, as well as drawings and an oil sketch related to The Revolt at Cairo (Versailles, Musée national du château). In illustrating this episode from Napoleon's Egyptian campaign, Girodet gives free reign to the exoticism and violence of the emerging Romantic fascination with Orientalism.

The exhibition also features Girodet's portraits of the leading figures of his time as well as more intimate portrayals of his family members. As Girodet was the most talented draftsman to emerge from David's studio, a selection of his works on paper will also be exhibited.

Exhibition Credits and Catalogue
Girodet: Romantic Rebel
was conceived by Sylvain Bellenger, curator at the Direction des Musées de France, Paris. At The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the exhibition was organized by Gary Tinterow, Engelhard Curator in Charge, and Kathryn Calley Galitz, Assistant Curator, both in the Department of Nineteenth-Century, Modern and Contemporary Art. The exhibition is currently on view at the Louvre. After its showing at the Metropolitan Museum, it will travel to The Art Institute of Chicago and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue published by Gallimard, which will be available in the Museum's bookshops.

The exhibition catalogue is made possible by The Isaacson-Draper Foundation and The Florence Gould Foundation. Additional support for the catalogue has been provided by the Getty Research Institute and the Getty Grant Program.

Educational Programs
A variety of educational programs will be offered in conjunction with the exhibition, including a Sunday at the Met afternoon of lectures and programs, and gallery talks.

The exhibition will be featured on the Museum's website (

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