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The Rhetoric of Realism


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Title: The Rhetoric of Realism

The Rhetoric of Realism
  • Courbet and the Origins of the Avant-Garde

When I am dead let this be said of me 'He
belonged to no school, to no church, to no
institution, to no academy, least of all to any
régime except the régime of liberty. Gus
tave Courbet, 1869
Honoré Daumier (French, 18081879), Gargantua,
1831, lithograph, Bibliotheque Nationale de
France, Paris. Caricature of King Louis Phillip
as Gargantua (satire by François Rabelais, 1494 -
1553) led to Daumier's imprisonment for six
months at St. Pelagic in 1832.
(left) Honoré Daumier, Pygmalion, from the
"Ancient History" Series, 1842, lithograph,
Bibliotheque Nationale de France, Paris,
France(right) Anne-Louis Girodet, Pygmalion and
Galatea, 1813-19, oil on canvas 99 x 115 in.
Honoré Daumier (French, 1808-1879), The Uprising,
1848 or later, oil on canvas, 34 x 44 in. The
Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.
Honoré Daumier, Ratapoil, 1851, bronze, 17 in.,
Musée d'Orsay, Paris, France. Ratapoil means
skinned rat  a government agent
Jean-Hippolyte Flandrin (French, 1809-1864),
Napoleon III, 1860-61, oil on canvas, 83 x 58in.
Ruler of the Second French Empire (1852-1870) and
the last monarch of France.
Honoré Daumier, The Third-Class Carriage, ca.
186264, oil on canvas, 25 ¾ x 35 ½ in.,
Metropolitan MA, NYC
Jean-François Millet (1814 - 1875) The Gleaners,
1857, Musée d'Orsay, Paris. Barbison school and
Realism influenced by Daumiers paintings.
Jean-François Millet (French Realist, 1814-1875),
The Sower, oil on canvas, 40 x 33 in. 1850.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Gustave Courbet (French, 1819-1877)
Self-Portrait, c. 1845Théodore Gèricault,
Portrait of an Insane Woman (envy), 1822, Musée
des Beaux-arts de Lyon, France
Gustave Courbet, The Man With the Leather Belt,
1845-46oil on canvas, 39 x 32in. Paris, Musée
Gustave Courbet, Portrait of the Artist (Wounded
Man) 1844-54 Oil on canvas , 32 x 38in, Musee
d'Orsay, Paris
Gustave Courbet, The Stone Breakers, 1849
(destroyed during World War II), oil on canvas,
63 in x 8ft 6in.
Gustave Courbet, A Burial at Ornans 1849-1850,
oil on canvas, 10ft 3in x 21ft 9 in., Musee
d'Orsay, Paris
Gustave Courbet, Burial at Ornans, 1849 compare
with (below) Thomas Couture, Romans of the
Decadence, 1847
William Bouguereau, (left) Mother and Children,
The Rest, 1879 (right) Home From the Harvest,
1878, Cummer Museum of Art, Jacksonville, Florida
William Bouguereau, The Broken Pitcher, 1891the
De Young MA, San Francisco
Early 19th century French Épinal print
Gustave Courbet (French, 18191877), The Peasants
of Flagey Returning from the Fair, 185055, oil
on canvas, 83 x 109 in. Musée des Beaux-Arts et
d'Archéologie, Besançon, France
Rosa Bonheur (French, 1822-1899), Plowing in
Nivernais (Labourages Nivernais), 1850, oil on
canvas, 52 1/2 x 102 in. Ringling Museum,
Sarasota, Florida
Gustave Courbet, The Painter's Studio A Real
Allegory Summing up Seven Years of My Artistic
Life, 1855, oil on canvas, 12ft x 19ft 8in 1/2in,
Musée d'Orsay, Paris
  • I have studied, outside of any system and
    without prejudice, the art of the ancients and of
    the Moderns. I no more wanted to imitate the one
    than to copy the other nor, furthermore, was it
    my intuition to attain the trivial goal of art
    for art's sake. No! I simply wanted to draw
    forth from a complete acquaintance with tradition
    the reasoned and independent consciousness of my
    own individuality"
  • "To know in order to be able to create, that was
    my idea. To be in a position to translate the
    customs, the ideas, the appearance of my epoch,
    according to my own estimation to be not only a
    painter, but a man as well in short, to create
    living art - this is my goal.
  • Gustave Courbet, statement for the Pavilion of
    Realism, built next to the Paris International
    Exhibition of 1855

The French government signed an armistice with
the Prussians on 28 February 1871. On 18 March
1871, the Commune of Paris was declared. Until 28
May 1871, the Commune reigned in Paris - a
worker's insurrection whose red banners hinted at
worker's revolutions to come in the early 20th
century some 46 years later.(left) Destruction
of Paris following the Franco-Prussian war, siege
of Paris, and (right) after the Commune 1871,
Communards shot by firing squad of French
soldiers (in the streets of Paris).
Courbet as Communard, and the destruction of the
Vendome column, symbol of Napoleonic imperialism
and the power of Napoleon III"Inasmuch as the
Vendôme column is a monument devoid of all
artistic value, tending to perpetuate by its
expression the ideas of war and conquest of the
past imperial dynasty, which are reproved by a
republican nation's sentiment, citizen Courbet
expresses the wish that the National Defense
government will authorise him to disassemble this
column. Courbet
Gustave Courbet, Self-Portrait at Sainte-Pelagie,
1872 Imprisoned for Communard activities, this
is Courbets last self-portrait
Gustave Courbet, Panoramic View of the Alps, Les
Dents du Midi The Teeth of the South, 1877,
Cleveland Museum of Art. Painted in exile in
Switzerland, lower right unfinished at artists
death in 1877.
John Everett Millais (British, 1829-1896), Christ
in the House of His Parents (The Carpenter's
Shop'), 1850, oil on canvas, 33 x 54 in. Tate,
William Holman Hunt, The Awakening Conscience,
1853, oil on canvas, 29 x 22 in. Tate, London
Ford Madox Brown, Work, 1852-65, oil on canvas,
arched top, 54 x 78 in. Manchester City Art
Galleries, Manchester, England. Mental
laborers on the right socialist philosophers
Frederick Denison Maurice (right) and Thomas
Carlyle (left)
The contrast of labor and idleness in Browns
Work continues on the gold frame, which contains
Biblical quotations about the virtue and
importance of hard work.
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