France • 1819−1877

French painter, sculptor and graphic. At the age of 12 years came to Paris. Courbet wanted to paint the surrounding world as it really was. The artist liked the radicals, and during the Paris Commune in 1871 he was the head of the Committee that decreed to take off the Vendome column as a symbol of the monarchy. Then, being sentenced to prison and fined for the amount of 300 thousand francs, he fled to Switzerland, where he spent the last years of his life. Courbet died in Tour-de-Peilz in Switzerland on 31 December 1877.

Gustave Courbet was born in 1819 at Ornans, a town with a population of about three thousand people, located in Franche-Comte, 25 km from Besancon, near the Swiss border. His father, Regis Courbet, owned vineyards around Ornans. In 1831, the future artist attended Seminary in Ornans. It is alleged that his behavior was so contrasting with what was expected from seminarian that nobody could let go of his sins. Anyway, in 1837 at the insistence of his father Courbet was enrolled to the College Royal in Besancon that, as hoped his father, had to prepare him for further legal education. While teaching at the College, Courbet attended classes at the Academy, where his teacher was Charles-Antoine Flagul, student of the largest French artist classicist Jacques-Louis David.


In 1839 he went to Paris, and gave the father the promise that will be there to study jurisprudence. in Paris Courbet was acquainted with the art collection of the Louvre. In his work, particularly early, great influence subsequently had a small Dutch and Spanish artists, especially Velasquez, from whom he borrowed the overall dark tone pictures. Courbet was not to practice law, but instead he began his studies in art workshops, primarily from the Charles de Steuben. Then he refused to receive formal art education and went to work in the workshops of Swiss and Lapina. In the workshop of Swiss had no special training, the students had to depict nudity, and their artistic search is not limited. This style of learning is a good fit Courbet.


In 1844 the first picture Courbet, "self-Portrait with the dog", was exhibited at the Paris salon (all other pictures were rejected by the jury). From the outset, the artist showed itself at a realist, and the further, the stronger and more persistent followed in this direction, considering the ultimate goal of the art transmission naked reality and life prose and neglecting even grace technology. In the 1840-ies he wrote a large number of self-portraits.


Between 1844 and 1847 years Courbet several times visited Oman, and also travelled to Belgium and the Netherlands, where he managed to make contact with sellers painting. One of the buyers of his works was a Dutch painter and collector, one of the founders of the Hague school of painting Hendrik Willem, Mesdag. Subsequently, it laid the foundations widely known painting by Gustave Courbet outside France. Around the same time, the artist establishes communication in Parisian artistic circles. So, he went to a cafe Brasserie Andler (which was right outside his Studio), a gathering of representatives of the realistic trend in art and literature, in particular, Charles Baudelaire, and Honore Daumier.


At the end of the 1840-ies the official direction of French painting was still academism, and the works of the artists of the realistic trend periodically rejected by organizers of the exhibitions. So, in 1847 all three works by Courbet, presented in the Salon, were rejected by the jury. Moreover, this year the jury of the Salon rejected a large number of famous artists, including Eugene Delacroix, Daumier and Theodore Rousseau, so they hatched plans on creation of own exhibition gallery. The plans were not realized due to the outbreak of the revolution. As a result, in 1848, the year all seven works by Courbet, presented to the jury, were exhibited at the Salon, but he could not sell a single picture.


When mind and considerable talent of the artist, his naturalism, seasoned, genre paintings, socialist trend, caused a lot of noise in the artistic and literary world and gained him many enemies (to be treated Alexander Dumas), but also a lot of adherents, which belonged to the famous writer and theorist of anarchism Proudhon.


In the end, Courbet became the head of the realistic school, which originated in France and spread from there to other countries, particularly in Belgium. The level of animosity other artists came to the fact that for several years he did not participate in the Paris salons, and at the world exhibitions arranged of his works a special exhibitions, in separate rooms. In 1871 Courbet joined the Paris commune, was governed by public museums and led the overthrow of the Vendome column.


After the fall of the Commune, was in prison by a court judgement, six months in prison; later he was sentenced to increase of expenses on restoration of the destroyed them column. This forced him to retire in Switzerland, where he died in poverty in 1877.

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