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Monday, August 20, 2012

Courbet, Gustave


Self-Portrait with Pipe
1849
oil on canvas
45 x 37 cm (18 x 15 in.)
Musée Fabre, Montpellier, France

 "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."

Many of Courbet’s early paintings from the 1840’s are self-portraits. As a method of self-promotion and advertisement, he made an impression with his self-portraits, and used them to find his own artistic style. After this period, he became convinced that painters should illustrate the world around them as they see it and his realistic work in the later 1840’s gained support among younger realist and neo-romantic painters.

Jean Désiré Gustave Courbet (1819 – 1877) was a French painter who led the Realist movement in 19th-century French painting.
He was born into a wealthy bourgeoisie family in Ornans, France. In 1841, Courbet left the countryside where he grew up to study law in Paris. However, this is where he discovered the joy of painting, and soon all interest in the law was gone. In 1844 his self-portrait, Courbet with a Black Dog, was accepted by the Salon.

Courbet lived a Bohemian lifestyle, sacrificing many bourgeoisie comforts to paint in a creative environment. He attempted to show his political leanings through his choice of lifestyle and the subjects of his paintings.

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