Gustave Courbet French, 1819-1877


A leading pioneer of the Realism movement in the 19th century France, Gustave Courbet had a major influence on the development of European Art.

His method of confronting issues of Modernism greatly inspired younger generation of artists, including the Impressionists and the Cubists.

A spirited and proud figure, Courbet was sensitive to issues of social life and to contemporary life. He approached the images of everyday life – such as peasants, quotidian events – with the previously reserved treatment of history painting and in an emphatically realistic style. Works such as the Stonebreakers and A Burial at Ornans challenged Academic conventions became essential works in the shift in the trajectory of European Art.

Courbet also brough change to landscape paintings, with the use of a palette knife, applying thicker paint to depict hunting scenes and seascapes.

A public figure, the artist participated in the major political changes that unfolded

after 1870. In 1871 he was imprisoned for his involvement in the Paris Commune and was deemed responsible for the destruction of the Vendome Column. Unable to pay the debts he fled to Switzerland where he lived until his death in 1877.