A study of nude models is often called an academy (académie in French), because such paintings and drawings have been standard practice in art schools, or academies, since the sixteenth century. This work depicts a model in a pose that is found in at least two other paintings. One of these, now at the Musée Bonnat, Bayonne, is widely accepted as a work by Gericault, probably between 1810 and 1813, in the studio of Pierre-Narcisse Guérin (1774–1833).
New York. Metropolitan Museum of Art. “The Masterpiece of Fifty Ages,” November 15, 1970– February 15, 1971, no. 363.
As with other paintings of this or similar models, depicted in the same pose from a slightly different angle (collections Lord Harewood, Leeds; Bazin 1987, no. 123), this work was previously associated with Gericault. Historically, each has also been confused with Gericault’s paintings of seemingly different models, whose poses are almost identical to ours, but which are shown standing in water (Musée Bonnat, Bayonne; Bazin 1987, no. 121).
Eitner, for example, initially (1953) believed the Metropolitan image by Gericault, but later revised his opinion (letter October 17, 1975, department file), asserting that the work cataloged by Clément (1868, no.9) was the current academy at Bayonne, and added that the Harewood image is the same model as ours, but more likely by Gerica