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Composition

Gustave Courbet

Gustave Courbet was the father of Realism in 19th century painting..

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Gustave Courbet, Burial at Ornans, 1849-1850

Jacques Louis David, The Consecration of the Emperor Napoleon and the Coronation of Empress Joséphine on December 2, 1804, 1806-7

Another difference between the two pictures lies in the way they compose the ceremonies. Jacques-Louis David gives every individual an appointed place in an orderly grouping of figures, and - in line with academic protocol for history painting of this kind - all eyes are on the central event. In Courbet's painting, however, forty-seven figures are casually compressed in a stage-like rectangle in which most do not seem focused on the actual ceremony; instead, they gaze in many directions. Indeed, while David invites us to appreciate the grandeur of Napoleon's Coronation, Courbet excludes any trace of sentimentality: although we know the funeral must be sorrowful, the picture seems to deliberately avoid conveying that. Finally, while David's composition points us to a living hero, Courbet's directs us to the empty grave for an ordinary individual, a country relative of the painter. The liberties Courbet took with subject-matter and composition corresponded with the influence of photography inspiring many modernist painters to see snapshot-like designs as a valid way to compose a picture.

Monumental Scale The Body



The Image Comparison Learning Tool was developed for The Art Story Foundation by Stephen Knudsen and Morgan Falconer. Please visit www.SteveKnudsen.com for full information on this methodology and for further information on The Beardsley ICU System.