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.
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.