Gustave Courbet 1819-1877




Gustav Courbet was born on June 10, 1819 in Ornans, France. He went to Paris when he was 20 years old and worked at the studio of Steuben and Hesse. An independent spirit, he soon left, preferring to develop his own style by studying the paintings of Spanish, Flemish and French masters in the Louvre, and painting copies of their work. After moving to Paris, he often returned home to Ornans to hunt, fish and find inspiration.

Courbet painted figurative compositions, landscapes, seascapes, and still lifes. He courted controversy by addressing social issues in his work, and by painting subjects that were considered vulgar, such as the rural bourgeoisie, peasants, and working conditions of the poor. His work, along with that of Honoré Daumier and Jean-François Millet, became known as Realism. For Courbet realism dealt not with the perfection of line and form, but entailed spontaneous and rough handling of paint, suggesting direct observation by the artist while portraying the irregularities in nature. He depicted the harshness in life, and in so doing challenged contemporary academic ideas of art.


The kill of deer, 1867 is a very large picture representing a hunting scene, painted in 1867. The scene shows a deer attacked by a pack of hunting dogs and collapsed on the snowy ground. Two characters are on the right. Courbet uses a harsh realistic representation closer to Flemish models. Hunting scenes are common in the paintings of Courbet; every step of the chase is represented




The wave, 1870.  Oil on canvas. The artist offers an intense vision of the stormy sea, tormented and disturbing, with all the savage power of natural forces at work. He composed his picture in three horizontal bands: the shore, where large stones lie, the waves, painted in a range of dark greens highlighted with the white of the foam, and the lowering sky.


The stone breakers, 1849-150. Oil on canvas. The first one of the characters catches the eye is an old man in a broad-brimmed hat. He crushes large cobblestones into small stones with his hammer. The old man has tight cheeks, sharp nose and unhealthy skin color. His shoes have holes, out of which appear bare heels. The young man hardly hold basket with stones. His attire is not much different from the old man. Tattered shirt uncovers his thin, tanned body. Next to the young man are already torn baskets. This once again emphasizes how hard the work of these two is.


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