Gustave Courbet's Paintings

the life of gustave courbet

Courbet’s Realism may be regarded as part of a larger investigation into the physical universe that captivated academia in the 19th century. But it was his disdain for the French Academy’s strictures that motivated him the most in his paintings. Unlike other French painters of that period, Courbet’s artworks disregarded Classical or Romantic approaches.


Despite a thorough general education, Courbet’s academic art instruction was substandard. He got tuition from a lesser Neoclassical artist when he was 14, which provided him with a base to respond against.

early years

In Paris, he took a few classes from lesser-known professors, but largely trained himself by imitating paintings in the Louvre by Rubens, Caravaggio, and others.

mature period

During his tenure in Paris, Courbet produced in a constant Realist style. It was no shock when Courbet’s increasing circle of important allies made him head of the Realist organization in Paris in 1848.

mature period

The scale which he showed ordinary people drew a hailstorm of criticism, with many traditionalist opponents uneasy with the image’s apparent endorsement for democratic governance.

late period

Courbet concentrated on sexual nudes, hunting scenarios, panoramas, and seascapes throughout the 1860s. His nudes from this era violated the standards of the time and remain controversial to this day.

late period

Courbet was despised by the French Academy and other governmental organizations for most of his career. In 1870, he was granted the Legion d’Honneur, which he declined.


He died in 1877, at the age of 58, of severe drinking and liver illness at La Tour-de-Pails, Switzerland. His ashes are presently interred at the Ornans Cemetery.


The democratic eye of Gustave Courbet changed Western art. His new Realism set the door for later Modern styles like Impressionism and Post-Impressionism.


Burial at Ornans (1849)

The Bathers (c. 1853)

The Meeting (1854)

The Painter’s Studio (1855)

The Wave (1869 - 1870)