Gustave Courbet 1819 - 1877 | French realist painter
The painter Courbet started and dominated the French movement toward realism. Art critics and the public were accustomed to pretty pictures that made life look better than it was. Courbet, against much opposition, truthfully portrayed ordinary places and people. Gustave Courbet was born on June 10, 1819, to a prosperous farming family in Ornans, France. He went to Paris in 1841, supposedly to study law, but he soon decided to study painting and learned by copying the pictures of master artists. In 1844 his self-portrait, was accepted by the Salon, an annual public exhibition of art sponsored by the influential Royal Academy. In 1848 a political revolution in France foreshadowed a revolution in art, as people in the arts became more open to new ideas. Courbet's early work was exhibited successfully in 1849. That same year he visited his family in the countryside and produced one of his greatest paintings, followed by in 1850. Both were quite unlike the romantic pictures of the day because they showed peasants in realistic settings instead of the rich in glamorized situations. In 1855 he completed a huge canvas, and, when it was refused for an important exhibition, Courbet boldly displayed his work himself near the exhibition hall.