Portrait of a Kleptomaniac | MSK Gent
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Portrait of a Kleptomaniac, ca. 1820 - ca. 1824

  • oil paint, canvas
  • 61.2 x 50.1 cm
  • Inv. 1908-F

Public Domain

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Around 1820 Théodore Géricault painted the Portrait of a Kleptomaniac. This painting was part of a series of ten portraits of people confined in a madhouse, five of which have been preserved. At the time the artist had befriended doctor Etienne-Jean Georget, who was a member of a group of enlightened medical practitioners, the so-called alienists. They no longer considered madness to be a divine punishment, but rather an illness or a disability, which needed to be treated. The alienists believed that the mad person’s physiognomy revealed his disability. They coined the term ‘monomania’ for a psychological disorder, which expressed itself as one well-defined obsession or one single illusion. They used every possible means in their research to represent expressions, such as casting moulds, busts, drawings and engravings. Géricault was undoubtedly influenced by them. His portraits reveal an almost scientific interest in mad people. An unusual feature for this era is the dignity that the artist tries to respect, while depicting the confined person and his Romantic empathy for the patient’s sick mind. Géricault’s fluent and suggestive style of painting in Portrait of a Kleptomaniac gives another perspective to the concept of ‘finished painting’, while adding new value to the work of art as a study.


Théodore Géricault RKD
Rouen 1791 - Paris 1824
painters (artists)AAT

Title Portrait of a Kleptomaniac
Date ca. 1820 - ca. 1824
Period 19th century
Location France TGN
Collection paintings AAT
Object type oil paintings (visual works) AAT
Inventory number 1908-F
Acquisition credit gift
The Friends of the Museum
Current whereabouts Work on display
Permalink https://mskgent.be/collection/work/data/1908-F
IIIF Manifest https://imagehub.mskgent.be/iiif/3/131/manifest.json
Art & Architecture Thesaurus 300015637 portraits AAT
300055865 symbolism (artistic concept) AAT
300189808 figures (representations) AAT
Keywords Iconclass 31A2211 face Iconclass
31A2212 eyes Iconclass
31A2214 mouth Iconclass
31A2421 head turned to the left Iconclass
31A464 emotional illness, derangement, madness Iconclass
31A4642 mania, obsession Iconclass
31A4642(+0) mania, obsession (+ variant) Iconclass
31B6213 looking sideways Iconclass
32A6 physiognomy Iconclass
49G71 psychology Iconclass
49G72 psychiatry Iconclass
61B11 anonymous historical person portrayed Iconclass
61B111 anonymous historical person portrayed alone Iconclass
61B2 historical persons Iconclass
61B2(ADOLPHE LACHÈZE) historical person (ADOLPHE LACHÈZE) Iconclass
61B2(ÉTIENNE ESQUIROL) historical person (ÉTIENNE ESQUIROL) Iconclass
61B2(ÉTIENNE-JEAN GEORGET) historical person (ÉTIENNE-JEAN GEORGET) Iconclass
61E(PARIS) names of cities and villages (PARIS) Iconclass
61F(LA SALPÉTRIÈRE) names of historical buildings, sites, streets, etc. (LA SALPÉTRIÈRE) Iconclass
School / Style Romantic (modern European styles) AAT
Catalogus van het Museum van Schoone Kunsten Gent : II: Moderne Meesters / Georges Chabot, Fritz Van Loo. - Gent : Ad. Hoste, 1932 (p. 72-73 (ill.))
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Het Museum voor Schone Kunsten Gent : een keuze uit de mooiste werken / Patrick De Rynck. - Gent : Ludion, 2007 (p. 61 (ill.))
Beeldenstorm in Nederland en België / Henk Van Os, Raspe Jessica, Fieke Tissink. - Hilversum : Algemene Omroepvereniging Avro, 2004 (p. 44 (ill.))
Antwerpen - Brugge - Gent : De musea en hun kunstschatten van Van Eyck tot Magritte ; ontdek het rijke erfgoed in drie Vlaamse steden ; de Vlaamse Kunstcollectie / Geert Souvereyns, Till-Holger Borchert, Paul Vandenbroeck. - Dijon : Éditions Faton, 2007 (p. 60 (ill.))
Constable / Jonathan Clarkson. - London : Phaidon Press, 2010 (p. 206-207 (ill. 184))
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Géricault : Bilder auf Leben und Tod : Eine Einführung in die Ausstellung Ab 12 Jahren (Frankfurt, Schirn Kunsthalle, 18.10.2013 - 26.01.2014) / Laura Heeg, Antje Lindner. - Frankfurt am Main : Schirn Kunsthalle, 2013
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Of the Deep Present : Craigie Horsfield (Exhibition 'How the World Occurs' Utrecht, Centraal Museum, 28.10.2016 - 05.02.2017 ; Lugano, Museo d'Arte della Svizzera italiana, 11.03.2017 - 02.07.2017) / Craigie Horsfield, Bruno Fornari, Nancy Princenthal. - Utrecht : Centraal Museum, 2016 ; Lugano : MASI, 2016 (p. 27)
Museum voor Schone Kunsten Gent : De collectie (tentoonstelling vanaf 21 maart 2021) / Johan De Smet, Bart Ooghe, Frederica Van Dam, Lieven Van Den Abeele, Cathérine Verleysen. - Gent : Museum voor Schone Kunsten Gent, 2021
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onder vrienden : 225 jaar verzamelaars rond het Museum voor Schone Kunsten Gent (tentoonstelling Gent, Museum voor Schone Kunsten Gent, 25.11.2023 - 28.04.2024) / Johan De Smet, Frederica Van Dam, Willy Van der Gucht, Manfred Sellink. - Gent : Museum voor Schone Kunsten Gent, 2023 ; Gent : De Vrienden van het Museum, 2023 (p. 71, cat. 81 (ill.))
Rare and Indispensable : Masterpieces from Flemish Collections (exhibition Antwerp, MAS, 31.10.2023-25.02.2024) / Thomas Leysen, Ben Van Beneden, Abigail D. Newman, Annemie de Vos, Adriaan Gonnissen. - Antwerp : MAS, 2023 ; Kontich : BAI, 2023 (p. 246-247)
Zeldzaam en onmisbaar : Topstukken uit Vlaamse collecties (tentoonstelling Antwerpen, MAS, 31.10.2023-25.02.2024) / Thomas Leysen, Ben Van Beneden, Abigail D. Newman, Annemie de Vos, Adriaan Gonnissen. - Antwerpen : MAS, 2023 ; Kontich : BAI, 2023
Apollo : the International Magazine of the Arts (titel varieert: Apollo : the International Art Magazine; originele titel: Apollo : A Journal of the Arts (1925)). - Londen : The Apollo Press, 1925- (p.68)
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