Born in Rouen, France, Géricault was educated in the tradition of English sporting art by Carle Vernet and classical figure composition by Pierre-Narcisse Guérin, a rigorous classicist who disapproved of his student's impulsive temperament yet recognized his talent. Géricault soon left the classroom, choosing to study at the Louvre instead, where (from 1810 to 1815) he copied from paintings by Peter Paul Rubens, Titian, Diego Velázquez, and Rembrandt. During this period at the Louvre he discovered a vitality he found lacking in the prevailing school of Neoclassicism.Much of his time was spent in Versailles, where he found the stables of the palace open to him, and where he gained his knowledge of the anatomyand action of horses.
Weakened by riding accidents and chronic tubercular infection, Géricault died in Paris in 1824 after a long period of suffering. His bronze figure reclines, brush in hand, on his tomb at Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, above a low-relief panel of The Raft of the Medusa.