From the mid-15th century until 1882, spring carnival in Rome closed with a horse race. Fifteen to 20 riderless horses, originally imported from the Barbary Coast of North Africa, ran the length of the Via del Corso, a long, straight city street, in about 2½ minutes. Throughout his career, Géricault lovingly depicted the horse as a metaphor for unfettered emotion and power. The artist initially planned to paint a canvas of this subject more than 30 feet in width; he completed 20 small oil studies before abandoning the project. In other variations on this theme, Géricault set the race in ancient, rather than contemporary, Rome.


  • Title: Riderless Racers at Rome
  • Creator Lifespan: 1791/1824
  • Creator Nationality: French
  • Date Created: 1817
  • Physical Dimensions: w59.5 x h44.9 x d12.7 cm
  • Type: oil paintings
  • Rights: Acquired by Henry Walters, 1907, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/
  • External Link: The Walters Art Museum
  • Medium: oil on paper, mounted on canvas
  • Provenance: Géricault Estate Sale, Paris, November 2-3, 1824, no. 81; Sale, A. M. Couvreur, Paris; Sale, E. Secrétan, Paris, July 1, 1889, no. 35; H. O. Havemeyer, 1889 [mode of acquisition unknown]; H. S. Henry, New York, 1899, by purchase [Durand- Ruel, as agent]; H. S. Henry Sale, New York, January 25, 1907, no. 21; Henry Walters, Baltimore, 1907, by purchase; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
  • Place of Origin: Rouen (in present-day France)
  • ExhibitionHistory: From Ingres to Gauguin: French Nineteenth Century Paintings Owned in Maryland. Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore. 1951; Inaugural Exhibition at the Fort Worth Art Center. Fort Worth Art Center, Fort Worth. 1954; The Taste of Maryland: Art Collecting in Maryland 1800-1934. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1984; Géricault. Musée du Louvre, Paris. 1991-1992; Highlights from the Collection. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1998-2001; Vive la France! French Treasures from the Middle Ages to Monet. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1999-2000; Triumph of French Painting: Masterpieces from Ingres to Matisse. Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore; Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa; Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach; Dayton Art Institute, Dayton; Royal Academy of Arts, London; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo. 2000-2002
  • Artist: Théodore Géricault

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