French Artists

French Artists
  • Paul Cézanne
  • Gustave Courbet
  • Jacques-Louis David
  • Edgar Degas
  • Eugène Delacroix
  • Paul Gauguin
  • Claude Monet
  • Auguste Renoir
  • Nicolas Poussin
  • Henri Matisse
  • Antoine Watteau
  • Jean-François Millet
  • Charles Le Brun
  • Jean Fouquet

Gustave Courbet (1819 - 1877)

Courbet was born in Ornans (Doubs) in 1819 into a prosperous farming family. In 1840 he moved to Paris to study law as his parents wished him to, however, once there, he began focusing on painting. At first he started working at the studio of Steuben and Hesse, only to leave soon after, in order to develop his own style of painting. He taught himself to paint by copying many masterpieces in the Louvre.

Courbet was a prominent and controversial painter of his time. He, along with several other contemporaries, was instrumental in founding the realist school of art of the 19th century. He began exhibiting his works, starting off with literary subjects, and then moving on to study real life, outraging many with his crude and stark depictions. Some of his most well-known works include "After Dinner at Ornans", "The Valley of the Loire", "The Burial at Ornans", "The Stone-Breakers Peasants of Flazey", "Village Damsels". Two of his paintings, "The Origin of the World" and "The Sleepers", were very erotic works which were banned from the public and made him even more notorious.

He was nevertheless very popular, especially with those who opposed the regime of the time. In 1871 under the revolutionary Paris Commune, he was placed in charge of all the art museums in Paris, and thankfully preserved them all from looting mobs. After being charged with the destruction of the Vendôme column and serving 6 months in prison as punishment, he left for Switzerland, where he stayed until he died in 1877, of a liver disease brought on by heavy drinking.