Naked Man on the Ground
This small study was produced as part of a series of paintings on the race of semi-wild horses that brought to a close the Carnival in Rome, where Géricault stayed in 1817. Leaving aside the race itself, the artist focused on the preparations and the struggle between the man and the spirited animal.
The figure on the ground appears in two drawings (Musée du Louvre and a Swiss collection). Jeanne Magnin refers to the confidently expressed anatomy of the studio model, emphasising the strong foreshortening and bold balance of the young man thrown to the ground. This anonymous figure, whose resistance to adversity is expressed in the way he is pinned down on an inclined plane against an abstract background, between shade and light, between earth and heaven. The dramatic lighting and the weightlessness of the leg, lend a touching gravitas to the figure.