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: A Painting by Courbet


Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Institution Minneapolis Institute of Arts
The Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts has received as a gift from Mr. James J. Hill, a large oil painting on canvas by Gustave Coubert, representing two deer in a forest. This generous gift was received before the opening of the Inaugural Exhibition, and has since then been exhibited in the large gallery, C5, together with Mr. Hill’s loan collection of masterpieces of French painting of the nineteenth century. No reproduction can give an adequate idea of the beauty of color and texture which characterizes this truthful depictment of a scene in forest life. There is an exquisite harmony of color in the blending of the soft grayish-brown of the velvety coats of the buck and doe with the green of the foliage.Gustave Courbet is now generally considered one of the great masters of the French school of the nineteenth century. He was born in 1819 at Ornans and died in 1877 at La-Tour-de-Peiltz, near Vevey, Switzerland. Although he is sometimes described as the pupil of Steuben and of Hesse in Paris, where the greater part of his life was spent, at the same time, Courbet was primarily a self-taught man; independent in character and independent in his art. His true master was Nature. His art was a reaction from romanticism, just as that, in turn, had been a protest against the classicism of the beginning of the nineteenth century. As such, Courbet’s art, as evincing the most positive naturalism before the impressionists, marks an important step in the history of art. In attempting to paint Nature as it is, not as the Greeks might have seen it, and not as the romantic poets might have seen it, Courbet approaches our modern point of view in daring to be sincere. His naturalism perhaps, is less evident to us since the impressionists have opened our eyes to truths of light which were hardly suspected in Courbet’s time, but when compared with the art of a classicist like David or a romanticist like Delacroix the novelty of his achievement is evident.During his life time Courbet suffered misunderstanding and positive abuse. All of this is now changed. The great national museum of France, the Louvre, is the proud owner of several important paintings by Courbet, and his work is eagerly sought by both public and private collectors. Mr. Hill’s gift formerly hung in his own collection, which contains two celebrated paintings by the master. These paintings, through Mr. Hill’s courtesy, are now exhibited with the other loans from his collection in Gallery C5. They are the well-known Chateau d’Ornans, a view of the little town in which Courbet was born, and The Tempest, one of the most stirring, powerful pictures which Courbet ever painted. With tremendous vigor of expression, the artist has painted the black clouds of the coming storm, and the trees bending before the wind.Referenced Work of Art
  1. Deer in the Forest, Gustave Courbet
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Source: Joseph Breck, "A Painting by Courbet," <i>The Minneapolis Institute of Arts Bulletin</i> 4, no. 1-2 (January-February, 1915): 18-19.
Rights: ©MIA
Added to Site: March 10, 2009