Gustave Courbet

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Gustave Courbet- A French artist and revolutionary


 A 19th century French Painter and the leader of the Realism movement during the 19th century, Gustave Courbet was the bringer of new thought and style into French painting scenarios. While his predecessors thrived on the Romantic era of art, Gustave introduced a more realistic and different style of painting through his paintings. His independent style stood out among his contemporaries and revolutionized the French Art scene. His work further inspired many works from impressionists and cubists of his time. Courbet is counted among one of the most influential artists of 19th century France.

Early Life

Gustave Courbet was born to Regis and Sylvia Oudot Courbet on 10 June 1819, a well-to-do farmers' family. Anti-establishment feelings have been prevalent in his family for generations. With his grandfather fighting in the French Revolution, it is only natural for Courbet to have social and political inclinations that came through in his paintings. He had three sisters whom he used as subjects for his early drawings and paintings.

Therefore, his interest in painting and his strong thoughts on socialism developed from an early age. Gustave Courbet's first work was an Odalisque, which was based on the writings of Victor Hugo. He also created many self-portraits in his early career.

Famous Artworks

In the 1840s, Courbet created a series of self-portraits that went up for exhibition. Some of his famous self-portraits are Self Portrait with Black Dog, Desperate Man, created in a theatrical style, and Man with a Pipe that was painted in the late 40s. Moreover, he also created The Wounded Man and The Sculptor in the 1845- 1850 period. In 1849, his painting After Dinner at Ornans was exhibited. Later on, Courbet painted the Stone Breakers in 1850, which is called the first of his great works.

Final years and Death

While Gustave's paintings were of a social and political character in his early career where he liked to portray ordinary subjects on an extraordinary scale, his later works were less political in nature. His later works were based on seascapes, landscapes, and scenery. However, Courbet did remain active as a thought leader and political figure in his final years. He was imprisoned in 1871 and sent to exile in 1873 in Switzerland. Courbet died on 31 December 1877, aged 58, of liver disease.