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Gustave Courbet - A Real Realist

Gustave Courbet - After Dinner at Ornans - 1849 - Oil on canvas, 195 x 257 cm - Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lille (click photo for larger image)French painter Gustave Courbet (1819-1877) challenged Romanticism so actively that he became the leader of the Realist movement. His aim was not to embellish or idealize reality--but to reproduce it accurately. In this regard, Courbet had a profound impact on Modern Art. He succeeded in avoiding what he believed were the artistic clichés, contrived idealism, and timeworn models of art. The work featured here--”After Dinner at Ornans”--is a large-scale composition that cemented Courbet’s reputation. Exhibited at the 1849 Salon, “After Dinner at Ornans” is set around a table in Caravaggesque fashion. It is a masterpiece of genre painting--and it won Courbet a gold medal that insured him exhibition rights at the Salon, without having to submit to a jurying process.

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