3 July 1816: the French frigate “The Medusa” founders off Cap Blanc. Two and a bit years later, Theodore Géricault exhibited his classic romanticist work; a grim and sombre depiction of hope turning to despair, as possible rescue, seen in the distance, fades away.
The loss of 150 people in this wreck, and abandonment of some, and evidence of cannibalism by survivors, became a national scandal, and Gericault’s melodramatic treatment did nothing to calm the citizens down. “This was a great subject, gory and gasp-making.”*[Sue Roe, The Private Lives of the Impressionists, 2006, p. 9.]
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