Friday, December 08, 2006


Johann Heinrich FÜSSLI, La Folie de Kate, 1807, 92 X 72,3, Francfort, Goethe Museum

Francisco GOYA, Corral de Locos, 1794, 43,8 X 32, 7, Dallas, Meadows Museum

Théodore GÉRICAULT, Monomane de l'envie, 1822, 72 X 58, Lyon, Musée des Beaux-Arts

Georget and Géricault

In 1820 Etienne Jean Georget, a student of Esquirol at the Salpêtrière, published On Madness. Georget believed that the physiognomies of the insane varied according to the passions and ideas which drive them, as well as to the character of the delirium and the stage of the illness. "In general the face of the idiot is stupid, without meaning; the face of the maniac is as agitated as his spirit, sometimes distorted or cramped; the imbecile's face is cast down and without expression; the face of the melancholic is contracted, marked by pain or extreme preoccupation; the monomaniacal king has a proud, high facial expression; the religious maniac is meek, he prayes, keeping his eyes fixed to the heaven or to the earth; the anxious patient flees, looking to the side etc." Georget was interested in capturing typical physiognomies for further study. To this end he requested his friend Théodore Géricault, one of the greatest of the French Romantic painters, to do portraits of ten patients at the Salpêtrière between 1821 and 1824. Both men died before the project was completed and the illustrations were never published, but five of these paintings representing five different psychopathologies have been preserved.

Sander L. Gillman, Seeing the Insane; John Wiley & Sons, 1982, 84.
also see : John M. MacGregor's The Discovery of the Art of the Insane, pp.38-44.


Margaret MILLER, « Gericault's Paintings of the Insane », Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, Vol. 4, No. 3/4 (Apr., 1941 - Jul., 1942), pp. 151-163

Albert BOIME, « Portraying Monomaniacs to Service the Alienist's Monomania : Gericault and Georget », Oxford Art Journal, Vol. 14, No. 1 (1991), pp. 79-91