Jean Désiré Gustave Courbet

Jean Désiré Gustave Courbet
10.06.1819 (Ornans, France) - 31.12.1877 (La Tour-de-Peilz, Switzerland)

Nationality: French


Gustave Courbet was born in Ornans and grew up in a prosperous family of landowners. He was very proud of his provincial heritage, which was influenced his controversial choice of subject matter, namely peasant life and the rural bourgeoisie. This was in stark contrast with the history painting that was considered by the Paris Salon to be the highest calling for an artist at the time.

During his first years in Paris, Courbet submitted numerous pieces to the selection committee of the Paris Salon; only three of which were accepted. Courbet’s self-confidence remained strong, however, and by 1848 Courbet slowly started gathering support among younger critics. In that year’s Salon he was represented by no fewer than ten works.

Eventually, Courbet’s work triumphed as the public grew more interested in his realistic approach at the cost of lavish and decadent romanticism. The public’s embrace launched him into celebrity. During the 1855 Salon, Courbet staged a parallel exhibition because a few of his pieces were rejected for lack of space. His “Temple of Realism,” as he called his gallery, was a temporary structure he erected beside the official Salon.

By the 1870s, Courbet had become a well-established and leading artist who can be considered the father of the realist movement in France. Indeed, he was admired by and inspired many artists that would after him rise to fame, like Claude Monet, James McNeill Whistler, and Paul Cezanne.  


R. Fernier, La vie et l'oeuvre de Gustave Courbet; catalogue raisonné, Lausanne/Paris 1978; P. ten Doesschate-Chu, Letters of Gustave Courbet, Chicago/Londen 1992; P. B. Crapo, 'The problematics of artistic patronage under the Second Empire: Gustave Courbet's involved relations with the regime of Napoleon III', Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte 2 (1995), p. 240-261; P. Ten-Doesschate Chu, 'Courbet, or not Courbet, that is the question', IFAR Journal dl. 7 (2001) 1, p.18-26; S. Lees (ed.), Bonjour, Monsieur Courbet! The Bruyas Collection from the Musée Fabre, Montpellier, ( Sterling and Francis Art Institute, Williamstown (Mass.) 2004; M. Ragon, Gustave Courbet. Peintre de la liberté, Paris 2004; A. Haudiquet, 'De Courbet à Matisse. La donation Senn-Foulds au musée Malraux du Havre', La Revue du Louvre, 2 april 2005, p. 22-26; L. Nochlin, Courbet, Harmondsworth 2007; M. Haddad, Gustave Courbet: peinture et histoire, Pontarlier 2007; P. Ten-Doesschate Chu, The most arrogant Man in France: Gustave Courbet and the Nineteenth-Century Media Culture, Princeton 2007; Shao-Chien tseng, 'Contested terrain: Gustave Courbet's hunting scenes', The Art Bulletin, 90/2 (juni 2008), p. 218-234; 


Gustave Courbet. Salander O’Reilly Gallery NY, November 2003;
Bonjour, Monsieur Courbet! The Bruyas Collection from the Musée Fabre
, Montpellier, 2004;
Courbet and the Modern Landscape. The Getty Museum, February–May 2006.


The work of Gustave Courbet is represented in the collections of many international museums, including the Hermitage St. Petersburg, Louvre and Musée d'Orsay in Paris, National Gallery in London, National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh, Neue Pinakothek in München, Städel Museum, Frankfurt, National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (Texas).

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Valley of the Loue near Mouthier-Haute-Pierre

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