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Géricault was a keen horseman, and his passion for horses was matched by his expert understanding of their anatomy. In 1813 he produced a number of oil studies and finished paintings, possibly including this one, of horses at the Imperial stables at Versailles. These paintings are characterised by close observation and detailed naturalism.
Géricault brilliantly captured the sheen of the dappled coat as it is momentarily lit up against the near blackness of the night sky. Using short, staccato strokes of liquid paint, which precisely follow the contours of the horse’s body, he created an effect of nervous energy that ripples across its silky surface.
Oil on canvas
H 48.9 x W 60.3 cm