With the pyramid shaped composition, Theodore Gericault unfolded the event that grasped the instant scene and depicted the victims’ suffering, anger and pain. The whole painting was full of the stifling atmosphere of tragedy and initiated romanticism. The painter spent 18 months painting this masterpiece and then made a continuous modification. Its first public exhibition was in 1819. The painter did not expect this work was able to produce such sensation effect. Although this event had passed for a long time, when the people stood in front of the painting, they seemed to see the surging waves, and saw the soldiers’ isolated and helpless situation.
The painting, The Raft of the Medusa, did not have the smooth description, but had great originality layout and shocking picture, which strongly stimulated the viewer’s emotions. Apparently, the artist in this shipwreck event saw the similar scene encountered in the French Revolution. The Raft of the Medusa was not a simple “news” painting, but the real mapping of the painter. Such romanticism was like the tempestuous and dangerous scene described in the British romantic poet Byron’s narrative poem Don Juan and was the ideological reflection of the advanced art.
A raft was floating on the sea, the sea breezed the sail made of sheet and the raft lifted by the surge constantly thrashed. The refugees in the raft had been dying and some were still looking into the distance. People at high attitudes waved the red and white linen and continuously called to the remote places. The whole painting gave people the turbulent and crisis feeling. Audience standing in front of the paining felt shocked. In the painting, the sail and the survivors on the raft just formed a triangle and became the center of the painting in order to show the scene of raft floating at sea. Some people were dead and some people held the bodies of their loved ones and lost in thought. And a pile of arm straight forward person broke the shackles of the stable triangle and constituted a turmoil and passionate triangle. They pushed one after another until the highest one was raised high and waving a red scarf. Along their shout direction, the careful readers can find a small shadow in the distant wave. Compared with the death, it meant the hope of life. But the painter intended to draw a sail in the background and the wind blew the raft back, which causes the tension between the victims’ mood for life and the reality created by the blowing wind.