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Gustave COURBET

French Gustave COURBET

French painter who led the Realist movement in 19th-century French painting

Source :  Pierre de LAUBIER

Born: on June 10, 1819 in Ornans, Orne, France
Died: on December 31, 1877 in La Tour-de-Peilz, Switzerland, Switzerland


Biography

Courbet was born to Régis and Sylvie Oudot Courbet in Ornans (Doubs). Though a prosperous farming family, anti-monarchical feelings prevailed in the household. (His maternal grandfather fought in the French Revolution.) Courbet's sisters, Zoé, Zélie and Juliette, were his first models for drawing and painting. After moving to Paris he returned home to Ornans often to hunt, fish and find inspiration.

He went to Paris in 1839 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.

His first works were an Odalisque suggested by the writing of Victor Hugo and a Lélia illustrating George Sand, but he soon abandoned literary influences, choosing instead to base his paintings on observed reality. Among his paintings of the early 1840s are several self-portraits, Romantic in conception, in which the artist portrayed himself in various roles. These include Self-Portrait with Black Dog (c. 1842–1844, accepted for exhibition at the 1844 Paris Salon), the theatrical Self-Portrait which is also known as Desperate Man (c. 1843–45), Lovers in the Countryside (1844, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lyon), The Sculptor (1845), The Wounded Man (1844–1854, Musée d'Orsay, Paris), The Cellist, Self-Portrait (1847, Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, shown at the 1848 Salon), and The Man with a Pipe (c. 1848–1849, Musée d'Orsay, Paris).

Trips to the Netherlands and Belgium in 1846–1847 strengthened Courbet's belief that painters should portray the life around them, as Rembrandt, Hals and other Dutch masters had. By 1848, he had gained supporters among the younger critics, the Neo-romantics and Realists, notably Champfleury.

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- Category Painter