This figure’s uniform identifies him as a member of the hussars—notoriously fearless cavalry—in the French army. He sits astride his horse, at a distance from the raging battle, with his trumpet at his side. Trumpeters needed visibility to sound a charge or retreat, yet his isolation may also symbolize the widespread disillusionment with the French military after the fall of Napoleon in 1815.
|Medium||Oil on canvas|
|Dimensions||37 13/16 x 28 1/4 in. (96 x 71.8 cm) Original dimensions: 28 3/8 x 22 13/16 in. (72 x 58 cm)|
|Acquisition||Acquired by Sterling Clark, 1912|
Théodore Géricault, Trumpeter of the Hussars, c. 1815–20, Oil on canvas. Acquired by Sterling Clark, 1912. The Clark Art Institute, 1955.959.
Lees, Sarah, ed. Nineteenth-Century European Paintings at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. Williamstown, MA: Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute; New Haven and London: distributed by Yale University Press, 2012.
The artist (possibly his sale, Hôtel de Bullion, Paris, 2–3 Nov. 1824, not in cat.);¹ possibly sale, Paris, 13 March 1827, no. 38, Le hussard en vedette sur une hauteur; ² Monjean; Prosper Crabbe, Brussels; Baron Ury von Günzburg; Defoer (by 1883–86, his sale, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, 22 May 1886, no. 20, ill.); Georges Lutz, Paris (by 1889–1902, his sale, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, 26–27 May 1902, no. 68, ill.); [Schaus Art Galleries, New York, sold to Clark];³ Elizabeth S. Clark (Mrs. Alfred Corning Clark), New York (probably 1902–d. 1909); F. Ambrose Clark, New York, her son, by descent (1909–12, given to Robert S. Clark in partial exchange for Fernleigh Farm, Cooperstown, N.Y.); Robert Sterling Clark, his brother (1912–55); Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 1955.
1. In a written addition found in a copy of the sale catalogue (British Museum, London), there is a work titled Hussard à cheval (Mounted Hussar), listed under the heading “études peintes par Géricault,” that may correspond to this painting. The annotated catalogue is reprinted in Germain Bazin, Théodore Géricault: Étude crtitique, documents et catalogue raisonné, 1987–97, vol. 1, p. 96, and the sale is Lugt 10747.
2. The sale catalogue notes that “in the background combatants are seen. A painting of beautiful color and a great energy of execution” (“Dans le fond on aperçoit des combattans. Tableau d’une belle couleur et d’une grande énergie d’exécution”) and the dimensions are given as 36 x 26 pouces (approximately 97 x 70 cm); this description may correspond to the present painting after it was enlarged.
3. In his diaries, Sterling Clark later recalled that this painting was bought in partial exchange for Gérôme’s Snake Charmer (1955.51), commenting in 1944, “[M]y mother had turned [Snake Charmer] in to Schaus for $10,000 to $12,000 around 1899 as part payment for the ‘Trompette de Hussards’ at $35,000” (RSC Diary, 11 Nov. 1944). She could not have acquired Trumpeter of the Hussars in 1899, however, since it was owned by Lutz until 1902.)
Sheet of Studies with Michelangelo's "Night," a Grenadier, and Other Sketches
c. 1816 or before