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Gustave Courbet

Ornans 1819 - 1877 La Tour-de-Peilz
Price range
0 – 3,000,000 USD +
Gustave Courbet is the most widely known exponent of nineteenth-century Realism and is regarded as having paved the way for the development of Modernism.

Courbet was a rebel who flouted academic rules and opposed Romantics’ and Classicists’ idealised depictions of mythology and Antiquity. Instead, Courbet portrayed the reality of contemporary life imbued with left-wing social commentary. However, he is a varied artist whose spiritual and romantic content gives him other dimensions. He experimented with novel compositional strategies and a revolutionary painting technique which included the use of thick superimposed layers of paint applied directly with a palette knife. This approach strongly influenced Paul Cézanne (1839–1906), who began mimicking Courbet’s style in the 1860s.

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Selected artworks

Top 3 auction prices

3,291,437 $
3,749,000 $
15,285,000 $


The sales are: Sotheby’s London – 27 Jun 2007 lot 222 (1,644,000 GBP), Sotheby’s New York – 6 Nov 2013 lot 40, and Christie’s New York – 9 Nov 2015 lot 10A.
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Notable exhibitions

Ornans, Musée Courbet, Courbet / Picasso, 1 July – 18 October 2021. Curated by Thierry Savatier.

Frankfurt am Main, Schirn Kunsthalle, Courbet: A Dream of Modern Art, 15 October 2010 – 30 January 2011. Curated by Max Hollein and Klaus Herding.

Paris, Grand Palais, Gustave Courbet: Retrospective, 13 October 2007 – 29 January 2008; travelled to New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 27 February – 18 May 2008; Montpellier, Musée Fabre, 13 June – 27 September 2008. Curated by Michel Hilaire, Sylvain Amic and Bertrand Tillier.

Los Angeles, The Getty MuseumCourbet and the Modern Landscape, 21 February – 14 May 2006; travelled to Houston, Museum of Fine Arts, 18 June – 10 September 2006; Baltimore, The Walters Art Museum, 15 October 2006 – 7 January 2007. Curated by Mary Morton and Charlotte Eyerman.

Paris, Grand Palais, Gustave Courbet: 1819–1877, 30 September 1977 – 2 January 1978; travelled to London, Royal Academy of Arts, 19 January – 19 March 1978. Curated by Hélène Toussaint.

Books on Gustave Courbet

Jeffrey Howe, ed., Courbet: Mapping Realism – Paintings from the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium and American Collections, exh. cat. Chestnutt Hill, 2013

Klaus Harding and Max Hollein, eds., Courbet: A Dream of Modern Art, exh. cat. Ostfildern, 2010.

Dominique de Font-Réaulx and Laurence des Cars, Gustave Courbet, exh. cat. New York and Ostfildern, 2008.

Petra ten-Doesschate Chu, The Most Arrogant Man in France: Gustave Courbet and the Nineteenth-Century Media Culture, Princeton, 2007.

Linda Nochlin, Courbet, London, 2007.

Mary Morton and Charlotte Eyerman, Courbet and the Modern Landscape, exh. cat. Los Angeles, 2006.

Linda Nochlin and Sarah Faunce, eds., Courbet Reconsidered, exh. cat. Brooklyn, 1988.

Linda Nochlin: ‘Courbet’s L’Origine du monde: The Origin without an Original’, October vol. 37, 1986, pp. 76–86.

Jean-Louis Fernier, Courbet: ‘Un Enterrement à Ornans’, anatomie d’un chef d’œuvre, Paris, 1980.

Robert Fernier, La Vie et l’Œuvre de Gustave Courbet : Catalogue Raisonné, 2 vols. Paris, 1978.

Linda Nochlin, ed., Realism and Tradition in Art: 1848-1900, Englewood Cliffs, 1966.

Henri d’Ideville, Gustave Courbet, Notes et Documents sur sa Vie et son Oeuvre, Paris, 1878.

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