As well as being drawings month in Paris, March looks like being a significant time for Théodore Géricault (1791-1824).
The French artist, who died aged just 32, worked in the early years of the 19th century and was influenced by both the neoclassicism of his teacher Pierre Narcisse Guerin and the Romanticism of Ingres.
Géricault’s most celebrated work is his Raft of the Medusa. The massive canvas now in the Louvre depicts a real-life story of the eponymous vessel’s shipwreck after which the captain abandoned some of the crew and passengers who were on a raft, an incident which caused a national scandal in France.
But Géricault excelled in many other areas. A detailed knowledge of horse anatomy rendered him a consummate painter of equine subjects: at the races or as equestrian or military portraits.
On March 23 Sotheby’s Paris rooms will be offering the Elmore collection.
This features six works by Géricault that have remained in the same family since they were commissioned by their ancestors over 200 years ago and are now making their first appearance on the market.
The 15-lot collection comes from the descendants of Adam Elmore, a British horse dealer, and his French-born wife Zoe.
The couple were friends of Géricault. They met him when he came to London following the acclaim of the 1820 exhibition of the Raft of the Medusa and he stayed at their home and produced works for them. These included the famous picture of the 1821 Epsom Derby, now in the Louvre, as well as the two oils and four watercolours now on offer at Sotheby’s which also reflect Géricault’s abiding interest in horses.
Two watercolour and gouache equestrian portraits of the Elmores are available: a double portrait of Zoe and Adam on horseback (estimate €200,000-300,000) and a painting of Zoe at the gallop guided at €400,000-600,000.
The oils are a portrait of Adam standing on the beach guided at €400,000-600,000 and one of Zoe reclining in an interior painted in 1821, estimated at €800,000-1.2m.
Also on offer is a watercolour of two horses, probably set in the Elmore stables, and a single watercolour and gouache on a lithographic base of an Arab horse, which are guided at €400,000-600,000 and €80,000- 120,000 respectively.
A seventh work is an oil on canvas of the Martrydom of St Hippolyte by Pierre Subleyras, which Zoe inherited from her father, that was reworked by Géricault and has an estimate of €300,000-500,000. The remaining eight lots in the collection are works by other artists.
On March 18 Osenat will offer a portrait by Géricault of Théodore Lebrun (1788-1861), a fellow artist and director of the Ecole Normale Superieure in Versailles.
Lebrun is known to have posed several times for the people on the Raft of the Medusa. A letter that he wrote to Léon Batissier, Géricault’s first biographer, describes a meeting between the two men in Sèvres when Lebrun was recovering from jaundice and Géricault was working on the Raft of the Medusa.
The 2ft x 19½in (61 x 50cm) portrait on offer, in oil on the original canvas and stretcher and dated to 1818-19, has been identified as Lebrun on the basis of an ivory self-portrait miniature of 1821 belonging to his descendants.
The Osenat painting shows him with wavy reddish brown hair wearing a dark grey jacket with an open necked white shirt, and is due to feature in the Catalogue Raisonné of paintings by Géricault currently being prepared by Bruno Chenique. It comes for sale from a French private collection and has an estimate of €100,000-150,000.