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Gustave Courbet (1819-1877) Gustave Courbet was born in Ornans, France. He went to Paris in 1839. Towards the end of the 1860s, Courbet painted a series of increasingly erotic works. His refusal of the cross of the Legion of Honour, offered to him by Napoleon III, made him immensely popular.
Porteuses de Fagots
Grotto of Sarrazine
Standing Female Nude
Bohemienne et ses Enfants
Rock at Bayard, Dinart
Reclining Woman
Woman with a Parrot


French, 1849
Black chalk
62.3 x 46 cm

"To paint human beings, and paint them well--that's the really difficult thing," said Gustave Courbet. His corpulent women shocked his critics, who were accustomed to less earthy depictions of the female form.

Though Courbet painted many female nudes, only two of his drawings of this subject survive. For this composition, Courbet modified the traditional academic nude study, the académie, into a more ordinary, less classically refined figure. He depicted a modern woman, but her classical pose and his sensitive modulation of form and careful rendering of flesh tones recall his study of the Old Masters in the Musée du Louvre.

Courbet made this drawing for a friend who remains unidentified. His inscription-- Mon Vieux, C'en est une qu'on enverra à Sainte Beuve s'il nous embête! Gustave Ct. 28 Avril 49 (Old man, here's one to send Sainte Beuve if he gives us a hard time!)--refers to literary historian and critic Charles-Augustin Sainte-Beuve, who was known for his conservative opinions. The words Les Debats at the woman's elbow probably refer to Le Journal des Débats, which published arts criticism.
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WikipediaJun 03, 2007 15:33Gustave Courbet

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