The present work and the following lot were until their recent discovery only known through a copy by Antoine Montfort (1802-1884), a student of Géricault, dated 1822 and now in the Musée du Louvre, Paris (Bazin, op. cit., 1989, no. 630). Montfort associated on his canvas these two sketches with four other studies of horses. Although it is possible that Montfort copied faithfully a single painting which included the six studies, one can not exclude that he decided (maybe under Géricault's instruction) to group six different studies on one canvas in order to emulate his master's famous painting of Twenty-four croups and a horse seen from the front executed in 1812 and now in a private collection (Bazin, op. cit., no. 625).
Bruno Chenique suggests that Géricault painted the two present sketches around 1820-21 when he was in England. In London, the artist stayed in the house of his friend Adam Elmore a horse dealer who owned stables near Hyde Park. It had already been noted by Bazin speaking of Montfort's copy that the horses' tails were cut the English fashion.
These two rediscovered sketches rapidly and vigorously executed and at the same time pefectly observed are another testimony of Gericault's talent at depicting horses and of his almost obsessive love of the subject which pushed him to study time after time his favourite animal in all the possible postures.
We thank Bruno Chenique for his assistance cataloguing these two lots. He will include them in his forthcoming Catalogue raisonné des peintures de Théodore Géricault.