The creation background of The Raft of the Medusa

The Raft of the Medusa was based on the real historical event. In July 1816, the captain Shomare who was born noble was utterly ignorant of sailing knowledge, but he was designated by the French government to drive the Raft of the Medusa to expedite to Senegal, Africa. Unfortunately, this raft was sunk in the west of Africa.

The captain abandoned over 400 people and hurriedly led a gang of henchmen to board a lifeboat to escape. The remaining 150 people only used a small raft temporarily built to escape and adrift at sea. Ten days later, the freshwater food was eaten up and the fierce storm destroyed people’s fragile soul. They began to desperate and got crazy and even killed each other to eat the dead people. Finally, after being rescued, only 15 people survived. But soon 5 people died. This tragedy killed more than 140 people. Such tragedy caused the panic of Louis XVIII government which tried various devices to conceal the truth and only sent a short message in the newspaper. The military court sentenced captain three-year short sentence, which aroused the anger of survivors. They still insisted on announcing the truth to the world, which produced the intense echo in the whole world.

The romantic painter Theodore Gericault seized this great event and took it as an important creation material. He personally went to the west coast, observed and experienced the sky and ocean, visited the shipwreck survivors and made his ideas into sketches. As a true reflection of this tragedy, he went to the hospital to observe the agony and horrors of critical patients, sketched the jaundice and painted the real body into his works. The raft was a small model that he hired a survivor carpenter to make. In short, all started from the real representation. The triangle Pyramid composition reproduced the most thrilling scene in the last moments of desperation.


The Raft Of The Medusa 1819

The Raft Of The Medusa 1819

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