About us
Artists Gustave Courbet
Gustave Courbet Photo

Gustave Courbet

French Painter

Movement: Realism

Born: June 10, 1819 - Ornans, Doubs, France

Died: December 31, 1877 - La Tour-de-Peilz, Switzerland

Gustave Courbet Timeline

Quotes

"I translate the customs, ideas, and appearance of my epoch as I see them."
Gustave Courbet
"I am fifty years old and I have always lived in freedom; let me end my life free; when I am dead let this be said of me: 'He belonged to no school, to no church, to no institution, to no academy, least of all to any regime except the regime of liberty."
Gustave Courbet
"Fine art is knowledge made visible."
Gustave Courbet
"The expression of beauty is in direct ratio to the power of conception the artist has acquired."
Gustave Courbet
"I hope to live all my life for my art, without abandoning my principles one iota."
Gustave Courbet
"Painting is the representation of visible forms. The essence of realism is its negation of the ideal."
Gustave Courbet
"I have obtained final permission to organize an exhibition with an admission charge. People will think I am a monster, but I will earn 100,000 francs by all estimates."
Gustave Courbet
"The beautiful is in nature, and it is encountered under the most diverse forms of reality. Once it is found it belongs to art, or rather to the artist who discovers it."
Gustave Courbet
"Painting is an essentially concrete art and can only consist of the representation of real and existing things."
Gustave Courbet

"All I have tried to do is to derive, from a complete knowledge of tradition, a reasoned sense of my own independence and individuality."

Gustave Courbet Signature

Synopsis

Gustave Courbet was central to the emergence of Realism in the mid-19th century. Rejecting the classical and theatrical styles of the French Academy, his art insisted on the physical reality of the objects he observed - even if that reality was plain and blemished. A committed Republican, he also saw his Realism as a means to champion the peasants and country folk from his home town. He has long been famous for his response to the political upheavals which gripped France in his lifetime, and he would die in exile in Switzerland when he was found responsible for the cost of rebuilding of Paris' Vendome Column. More recently, however, historians have also seen his work as an important prelude to other artists of early modernism such as Édouard Manet and Claude Monet.

Key Ideas

Courbet's Realism can be understood as part of the wider inquiry into the physical world that occupied science in the 19th century. But in his own realm of art, he was most inspired by his distaste for strictures of the French Academy. He rejected Classical or Romantic treatments and instead took humble scenes of country life - subjects usually considered the stuff of minor genre painting - and made them material for great history painting. For this he gained huge notoriety.
During the Paris Commune of 1871, Courbet briefly abandoned painting for a role in government. This was characteristic of his left-wing commitments. His art was not overtly political, but in the context of the time, he was not ignored as he expressed ideas of equality by heroicizing ordinary individuals, painting them at great scale and refusing to hide their imperfections.
In the process of clearing away the rhetoric of Academy painting, Courbet often settled on compositions that seemed collaged and crude to prevailing sensibilities. At times he also abandoned careful modeling in favor of applying paint thickly in broken flecks and slabs. Such stylistic innovations made him greatly admired by later modernists that promoted liberated compositions and amplified surface texture.
Instead of being completely reliant on the state-run Salon system, Courbet pioneered the solo retrospective as a private commercial venture, an approach that many later renegade artists followed.

Biography

Gustave Courbet Photo

Childhood

Born in the summer of 1819 in the small rural town of Ornans, near the French Alps, Courbet grew up in a picturesque environment with a supportive family. He enjoyed vigorous physical activities, like swimming with his sisters in the Loue River and playing in the family's pastures and vineyards. At school Courbet relished being the center of attention and entertaining his classmates with his wit and charm.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Gustave Courbet Biography Continues

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Gustave Courbet
Interactive chart with Gustave Courbet's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart

Artists

CaravaggioCaravaggio
Peter Paul RubensPeter Paul Rubens
Rembrandt van RijnRembrandt van Rijn
Diego VelazquezDiego Velazquez
Francisco de ZurbaranFrancisco de Zurbaran

Personal Contacts

Charles BaudelaireCharles Baudelaire
Pierre ProudhonPierre Proudhon

Movements

French RomanticismFrench Romanticism

Influences on Artist
Gustave Courbet
Gustave Courbet
Years Worked: 1839 - 1877
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Édouard ManetÉdouard Manet
Claude MonetClaude Monet
Pierre-Auguste RenoirPierre-Auguste Renoir
Paul CézannePaul Cézanne
James WhistlerJames Whistler

Personal Contacts

ChampfleuryChampfleury
Max BuchonMax Buchon

Movements

ImpressionismImpressionism
Post-ImpressionismPost-Impressionism
ExpressionismExpressionism

If you see an error or typo, please:
tell us
Cite this page

Content compiled and written by Stephen Knudsen

Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Stephen Knudsen
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
Available from:
[Accessed ]