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Jordan Cleek July 14 2013

Gustave Courbet: Too Big for His Time Gustave Courbet was the self-proclaimed proudest and most arrogant man in France (The Met). Not only was he haughtily egoistical, he craved scandal. In fact, many of his pieces were rejected by peered juries. Upon seeing large Dutch and Spanish paintings in the Louvre, Courbet began appalling the public with his ultra-Realism and larger-than-life scale of his paintings (Getty Museum). During Courbets time, the scale at which he was working was really only used to render important history events and people or biblical happenings, not peasant life and eroticism. This was a time of art reformation, the shift was happening from idealistic paintings of Romanticism to real live people and places. Courbet believed in the movement and didnt care about the outrage of his large canvases,.He just kept using them. He considered that contemporary history, even if it was that of ordinary people, merited these large formats (Dorsay). Luckily, Courbet didnt need the approval of his peers because during the peak of his career, Alfred Bruyas ( a wealthy art collector) became his patron. Because of this relationship, Courbet was able to live independently off his work and not be swayed by the public. The truth is Gustave Courbet was too realistic for his Realism Movement. There was no buffer to his art, Courbet rendered exactly how the event took place, and the viewer was forced to experience it as well. In The Sleepers, the viewer almost wants to turn away in this intimate moment. It made me feel as if I were walking into my parents room unannounced. It makes the view feel privy to an event they were not invited to. I cannot image how it would feel looking at the four and a half by six and a half foot image. No wonder his peers were out raged. This goes for the Young Bather as well. I believe that the public was so used to the Romanticism movement, that this just caught them off guard. They were used to pastels and light subject matter such as girls singing or lawn lunches. These pieces are moments of peoples lives in

Jordan Cleek July 14 2013

billboard sized paintings. Courbet even took it upon himself to render the cellulite on the young bathers body for Petes sake. Yes, the high arts had had Rueben painting beautiful, rotund women, but Courbet was giving the viewer ever little detail. The fact is, Courbet wasnt idealizing anything. During this time, it was once thing to paint a nude womans body. It was entirely different to paint a specific womans body down to her cellulite.


Jordan Cleek July 14 2013

Works of Art

The Sleepers Oil on Canvas 4.4 x 6.6

The Young Bather Oil on Canvas 4.3 x 3.2


Jordan Cleek July 14 2013

Works Cited
"Gustave Courbet (Getty Museum)." Gustave Courbet (Getty Museum). N.p., n.d. Web. 19 July 2013. "Gustave Courbet (1819-1877): A Biography." Muse D'Orsay:. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 July 2013. "Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History." Gustave Courbet (18191877).The Metropolitan Museum of Art/ N.p., n.d. Web. 19 July 2013.