Let your eye wander over “Mounted Trumpeters of Napoleon’s Imperial Guard.” What is the first word that comes to mind?
The painting’s composition is based upon strong visual contrasts. The artist used short, rapid brushstrokes to define the central figures in the foreground. To contrast, we see broader, more sweeping strokes used to create a neutral background. He further distinguished the figures from the background through his use of color. The background is in dark tones, while the figures are in warm, vibrant tones. This causes them to advance toward the viewer. The brightly colored parade uniform gives the painting a sensuous appeal. Produced during the height of war, Théodore Gericault makes no reference to its hardships or defeat. Instead, he creates a romantic image of military grandeur.
Théodore Gericault, “Mounted Trumpeters of Napoleon’s Imperial Guard,” 1813/1814, oil on canvas, Chester Dale Fund