Gustave Courbet (1819-1877)
Thirty years after the last great one-man show in Paris, this new exhibition presents a new look at the work of a painter whose importance to artists and historians alike, continues to be re-evaluated and enriched.
All of Courbet’s work between 1840 and 1877 is presented here, highlighting its richness, complexity and its many links to the social and political issues of the time. Around the Musée d'Orsay’s large paintings, Burial at Ornans and The Artist’s Studio, about one hundred and twenty paintings, thirty graphic works and about sixty photographs are presented from the Petit Palais and the Musée Fabre in Montpellier.
The large hunting scenes are of particular interest. True historical paintings, they emphasise the painter’s links with nature and his relationship with the hunted animal. This figure in Courbet’s work is a symbolic representation of human suffering and is to be compared with some of his self-portraits from youth.
Part of the exhibition is also devoted to the relationship between early photography and Courbet’s work, both of which confront pictorial tradition and question the representation of the real world.
Courbet had a determining influence on the artists of his time, from the advocates of “New Painting” in the 1860s (the Courbet-Manet “dialogue” comes to mind, with its links to Whistler) to the beginnings of Impressionism, and made him a key figure in the history of 19th century art.