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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Courbet, Gustave


Portrait of Juliette Courbet as a Sleeping Child
1841
Graphite on paper
Musee d'Orsay

 "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 régime except the régime of liberty."

Jean Désiré Gustave Courbet (1819 – 1877) was a French painter who led the Realist movement in 19th-century French painting. He occupies an important place in 19th century French painting as an innovator and as an artist willing to make bold social commentary in his work. He was born to a prosperous farming family in Ornans, France. He went to Paris in 1841, supposedly to study law, but he soon decided to study painting and learned by copying the pictures of master artists. In 1844 his self-portrait, Courbet with a Black Dog, was accepted by the Salon.

He was always at odds with vested authority, aesthetic or political. For his choice of subjects from ordinary life, and more especially for his obstinacy and audacity, his work was reviled as offensive to prevailing politics and aesthetic taste. Enjoying the drama, Courbet rose to defend his work as the expression of his newfound political radicalism. While he continued to provoke the establishment by submitting works to the Salon that were twice rejected in the mid-1860s, within that decade he triumphed as the leader of the realist school. His influence became enormous, reaching its height with his rejection of the cross of the Legion of Honor offered him by Napoleon III in 1870. Under the Commune of Paris (1871), Courbet was president of the artists' federation and initially active in the Commune; he was later unfairly held responsible, fined, and imprisoned for the destruction of the Vendôme column. In 1873 he fled to Switzerland, where he spent his few remaining years in poverty. Although his aesthetic theories were not destined to prevail, his painting is greatly admired for its frankness, vigor, and solid construction.

Courbet died, at the age of 58 in Switzerland, of a liver disease aggravated by heavy drinking.
“Painting”, in Courbet's view, “should consist solely of the reproduction of things the artist can see and touch.”
http://www.imaginarymuseum.net/view/flipcard