The History of Art And The Curious Lives of Famous Painters
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Gustave Courbet
1819-1877
French Realist Painter

One of the Greatest Painters Of All Time

Artistically and stylistically influenced by the following painters;   Francisco de Goya Franz HalsRembrandt,  and Meindert Hobbema

Education -  Royal College in Besançon

Cause of Death -  Dropsy, he was also afflicted with excruciating hemorrhoids in his latter years.

Courbet grew up in the French countryside, the son of a upper middleclass bourgeoisie family. His parents doted on young Gustav and hoped he would study law or become a doctor. Once the young artist moved to Paris he disdained his parents lifestyle and rented a small studio to live and work amongst the poor. Sometimes he even slept in doorways to feel a camaraderie with the homeless. When he became desperate for money his family usually sent enough to keep him going

From his earliest days Courbet emerged as a truly original voice in the art world. He used his brilliant talent to make bold social commentary on poverty and injustice. The young painter lived the life of a true bohemian and rabble-rouser. Courbet asserted "I hope to live all my life for my art, without abandoning my principles one iota, without . . . having painted as much as you can cover with your hand, to please somebody or in order to sell the picture more easily."

Courbet cutting edge realist style was revolutionary for the times. Parisian critics scoffed at his paintings and declared his an outcast.  Some of his paintings caused scandals and threats of violence.  W. C. Brownell states "It is easy to say he had all the coarseness without the sentiment of the French peasantry, whence he sprang; that his political radicalism attests a lack of the serenity of spirit indispensable to the sincere artist; that he had no conception of the beautiful, the exquisite—the fact remains that he triumphs over all his deficiencies, and in very splendid fashion. He is, in truth, of all the realists for whom he discovered the way, and set the pace, as it were, one of the two naturalistic painters who have shown in any high degree the supreme artistic faculty—that of generalization. However impressive Manet's picture may be; however brilliant Monet's endeavor to reproduce sunlight may seem; however refined and elegant Degas's delicate selection of pictorial material—for broad and masterful generalization, for enduing what he painted with an interest deeper than its surface and underlying its aspect.

Gustave Courbet Quotations


I have studied the art of the masters and the art of the moderns, avoiding any preconceived system and without prejudice. -- Gustave Courbet Quote


France is the only nation in which astoundingly small numbers of civilized patrons reside. -- Gustave Courbet Quote


Fine art is knowledge made visible. -- Gustave Courbet Quote


The expression of beauty is in direct ratio to the power of conception the artist has acquired. -- Gustave Courbet Quote


Painting is the representation of visible forms. . . The essence of realism is its negation of the ideal. -- Gustave Courbet Quote


When we see men of worth, we should think of equaling them; when we see men of a contrary character, we should turn inward and examine ourselves. -- Gustave Courbet Quote


I am not one who was born in the custody of wisdom; I am one who is fond of olden times and intense in quest of the sacred knowing of the ancients. -- Gustave Courbet Quote


Painting is an essentially concrete art and can only consist of the representation of real and existing things . . . an object which is abstract, not visible, non-existent, is not within the realm of painting. -- Gustave Courbet Quote


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 Quote
 

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Key Descriptive Words  and Phrases associated with the Realist paintingrevolution, poverty, social realist,  figurative compositions, landscapes, seascapes, still-lifes, social issues, vulgar, rural bourgeoisie, peasants, Classical Realism, Fantastic Realism, Social Realism, Heroic Realism, Photorealism,  Realist,  narrative

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References - French Art by W. C. Brownell