Gustave Courbet

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Overview

Spanning Gustave Courbet's entire artistic career and political involvement, this volume examines his major works - self-portraits, portraits, genre paintings, landscapes, nudes, hunting scenes, and still lifes. Essays shed light on Courbet's development of a realistic, critical style, describe his great influence on both contemporaries and later generations, and consider his works in their own art-historical context, as well as his relationship to early photography. ...
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Overview

Spanning Gustave Courbet's entire artistic career and political involvement, this volume examines his major works - self-portraits, portraits, genre paintings, landscapes, nudes, hunting scenes, and still lifes. Essays shed light on Courbet's development of a realistic, critical style, describe his great influence on both contemporaries and later generations, and consider his works in their own art-historical context, as well as his relationship to early photography.

Gustave Courbet: A major exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, February 27–May 18, 2008

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9783775721097
  • Publisher: Hatje Cantz Verlag GmbH & Co KG
  • Publication date: 3/28/2008
  • Pages: 480
  • Product dimensions: 9.40 (w) x 12.20 (h) x 1.70 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface 13

Introduction 15

Essays

Courbet: Utopia Versus Politics Bertrand Tillier Tillier, Bertrand 18

Realism and Ambiguity in the Paintings of Gustave Courbet Dominique de Font-Reaulx de Font-Reaulx, Dominique 30

"It Was Inevitable Because it is Not That We have Encountered Each Other, it is Our Solutions" Michel Hilaire Hilaire, Michel 41

A Legacy of Truth: The Reference to Courbet, From Manet to Cezanne Laurence des Cars Cars, Laurence des 58

A Complex Genesis: Courbet in the Laboratory Bruno Mottin Mottin, Bruno 70

"What No One Else Sees": The Tangible Reality of the Photographs of Balthasar Burkilard Dominique de Font-Reaulx de Font-Reaulx, Dominique 87

Catalogue

1 Inventing Courbet: The Early Self-Portraits 90

2 From the Private to the Historic 124

3 Manifestos 164

4 Courbet the Landscapist 226

5 The Modern Temptation 298

6 The Nude: Tradition Transgressed 336

7 The Painter as Melancholy Hunter 388

8 The Experience of History: Courbet and the Commune 408

Appendixes

Chronology Dominique Lobstein Lobstein, Dominique 430

Courbet Anthology: Correspondence, Reviews, and Documents 442

Bibliography 455

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  • Posted January 22, 2009

    major new study of the art, life, and ideas of the French painter Courbet

    Gustave Courbet '1819-1877' embraced the democratic ideas and values taking root in French Society following the overthrow of the French monarchy in the latter 1700s not only in his art, but in all other areas of his life as well. A moody bohemian-like person who naturally drifted to the margins of society, Courbet nonetheless sought political positions. At one time, he was the mayor of Paris's Sixth Arrondissement. Courbet is often simplistically labeled a painter of Realism. But he disapproved of this label and attention to the style, compositions, and innovations of his paintings disputes this as well. While Courbet's art patently and by intention marks a break with the formal, academicized, and rhetorical paintings popular with France's Ancien Regime, his turn to realism was not an attempt to depict nature with verisimilitude. The individuals of his paintings imply the broader, ideological reach of his paintings. As his contemporary the critic Castagnary put it, Courbet aimed to paint a democratic public 'with all the seriousness, strength, and character normally reserved for gods, heroes, and kings.' While Courbet replaced the later traditional subjects with the former contemporary ones, the dignified, to varying degrees romanticized presentation of such subjects carried over in Courbet's paintings. Courbet for instance never engaged in the caricature of Hogarth in England or even Daumier in his own country of newly-empowered democratic types crudely, vulgarly coming onto the social scene. Furthermore, Courbet 'is less concerned with presenting the truth [of nature as seen or experienced]...than with presenting solidity...[h]e seeks to express the materiality of the world around him.' Like Caravaggio or Rembrandt, Courbet often uses shadowing--i. e., shades of darkness--to bring out various literal and evocative dimensions of his subjects though this does not go nearly so far as Rembrandt in sometimes almost effacing the physicality of the subject. With Courbet, the physical is never lost. Although Courbet is not strictly a naturalist painter, the individuals and features of the natural world in his paintings ordinarily do have a naturalness of pose and ease of presence. Courbet's treatment of persons leaves the poses and coloration of those in the paintings of Manet--another 19th century French painter commonly regarded in the 'movement' of realism--seem mannered. Such are the precise artistic qualities 'instead of stereotyped' which make Courbet stand out as an exceptionally masterful painter as well as a historically important one. Courbet's interest in photography is another subject. Period photographs, some of nude women, are juxtaposed to paintings. Courbet's interest in the relatively new field of photography was more like a curiosity that there were certain coincidental affinities. Courbet was naturally interested in photography because it reproduced parts of the immediate, sensible world--as he did in his own paintings. This major study involving biography, criticism, art history, and a catalog of works is built on the Courbet exhibition at New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art through mid-May 2008.

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