Home >> Encyclopedia Americana, Volume 8 >> County to Crome >> Courbet

Courbet

paris, salon, painting and subjects

COURBET, koor'INV, French painter: b. Ornans, Franche-Comte, 10 June 1819; d. near Vevey, Switzerland, 31 Dec. 1877. In 1839 he was sent to study law in Paris, but all the bent of his nature was turned toward art. He studied at the studio of Steuben and Hesse, but he preferred to work independently. He made himself acquainted with the Flemish, Floren tine and Venetian schools; but amid all he was careful to preserve — as he phrases it — his "own intelligent and independent individuality?' His first works were literary subjects, but he soon became interested in portraying live sub jects. At this time he painted 'The Man with a Pipe,' and his own portrait with a dog. These subjects, treated broadly, were not accepted by the Salon; but were welcomed enthusiastically by the Realists. Courbet became the chief leader of this sect. He despised his critics, and even went so far as to exhibit independently. In 1841 he took to land§cape work, painting in the for ests of Fontainebleau. In 1844 he began to exhibit at the Salon; and his works created a great sensation when shown in the Salon of 1850. Among the pictures of this period are 'After Dinner at Ornans,' 'The Stone-Break ers,' 'Peasants of Flazey.' His hunting scenes and animal subjects and marines are especially vigorous and spirited. But he is often coarse and lacks spirituality throughout. After the

revolution of 1870 he was appointed director of the fine arts. His radicalism in painting led him to attempt to promote political and social re form, to which end he wrote essays and disser tations. When Napoleon offered him the cross of the Legion of Honor, he openly refused it, and this heightened his populartiy among the people. In the following year he joined the Commune, and was responsible for the destruc tion of the Vendome Column (16 May). For this act, in the following September, he was sentenced to six months' imprisonment and a fine was imposed for its restoration, his pictures being sold in 1877 toward that purpose. On his release he retired to Vevey. Several of his pic tures are owned in. the United States, four of them being contained in the Boston Art Mu seum. The various provincial museums of France possess many of his paintings, as do likewise the collections of Frankfort, Cologne, Vienna, Amsterdam, The Hague, Copenhagen and Munich. Consult for biography and criti cism, Estignard (Paris 1874) • D'Ideville (ib. 1878) ; Van Dyke, 'Modern French Masters' ; Man; 'G. Courbet' (in Gazette des Beaux Arts, Paris 1878) ; Muther, 'History of Modern Painting' (Vol. II, London 1896, 1907) ; Zola, 'Mes Haines' (Paris 1879).