Théodore Gericault (French, 1791–1824)
Oil on canvas
98 1/2 x 86 1/2 in. (250.2 x 219.7 cm)
Purchase, Gift of James A. Moffett 2nd, in memory of George M. Moffett, by exchange, 1989 (1989.183)
This work is one in a projected set of four monumental landscapes representing the times of day. Gericault completed only three: Morning: Landscape with Fishermen (Alte Pinakothek, Munich), Noon: Landscape with a Roman Tomb (Musée du Petit Palais, Paris), and the present work. Painted in Paris during the summer of 1818, the landscapes were conceived as decor, either to be exhibited as such at the Salon or to be placed in a specific interior. Nothing is known about a commission; nevertheless, extant receipts for the delivery of the canvases to Gericault's studio enable the works to be dated with precision.
The landscapes fuse souvenirs of ruins in the Italian countryside, which Gericault had visited in 1817 with the stormy skies and turbulent moods characteristic of the emerging aesthetic of Romanticism and the Anglo-French concept of the Sublime. Gericault painted these landscapes at a moment of personal turmoil: his uncle's second wife was about to give birth to a child whom Gericault had fathered. This event interrupted his work on the "Times of Day," and explains why only three of the four landscapes were realized.