Art Essay Sample on A Burial at Ornans by Gustave Courbet

Paper Type:  Research paper
Pages:  8
Wordcount:  2035 Words
Date:  2021-06-25

Gustave Courbet was a pivotal artist in the 19th century French Art world. He defied the standard practices that had been going on in his period and paved a path for the realism movement take place. He was also incredibly important in political events in France. Gustave Courbet paintings were the opposite of romanticism and displayed in painting vividly what he saw. He used his art to convey messages and stimulate the art world. In particular, his work known as A Burial in Ornans was painted in 1950 and was a shock the art world in the sense that it was unlike anything they have ever seen. Gustaves different phases of his art, unique methods of displaying his art, political influence and his actual paintings shaped the realism movement in French art history as well as propelled his political movement forward.

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Gustaves methods and mentality can mostly be understood through his many letters he wrote throughout his lifetime. Gustave born in 1819 and was raised in a small town called Ornans which is located 463 km from Paris. Gustaves family was wealthy, and they had extensive landholdings in the area. Ever since a young boy Gustave had a passion for painting and in the fall of 1839, he left for Paris. Early on Gustave focused on the old masters and he tried to learn and copy from them. But there is no parallel in the history of painting to the role played by Courbets self-portraits in the evolution of his art, and it is one index among many of the inadequacy of traditional accounts of his achievement that that role has gone, if not wholly unrecognized, at any rate uninvestigated. As will emerge, coming to terms with the extraordinary representational project of Courbets self-portraits will provide the basis for a new understanding of his monumental Realist pictures of 1848-51 You can see this in the examples below Man with the Leather Belt (1845-46) and Cellist (1847). After mastering and excelling at his self-portrait phase in life, Gustave moved on to the works he is well known for today.

In 1848-50 Gustaves artwork changed from self-portraits and portraits to large multi-figure paintings. His art became well know throughout all of Paris. Courbet was previously familiar with the traditional methods, as we can see from his paintings from when he was young, but in order accomplish and display what he was trying to, he had to change his methods because they were inadequate for his vision and subject matter. The major artworks from this shift and what Gustave is known for are StoneBreakers and A Burial at Ornans. Stonebreakers is 1.65m by 2.57m and is a display of one old man hard at work and another young kid at work. The picture is unique in style in the sense that every part is given the same attention to detail. If you look at the work and compare it to something in the past, you can see that the whole painting is equally detailed throughout. The rocks have just as much detail as the body and other things in the painting making it appear more real to the viewer. In A Burial at Ornans, there are a lot more messages to the audience as well.

When viewing A Burial at Ornans, it is first important to break down what you see. It is clearly an image of a funeral, and many historians debate whether it is the funeral for Courbets grandfather Oudot, a veteran of the revolutionary wars who died in 1848 or for Courbets granduncle Claude-Etienne Teste. We can also see Courbets father, mother, three sisters and other friends. After identifying the character's presence in this painting of grand scale, you begin to become perplexed. In a time when paintings of such great size themed around historical events, important leaders or religious stories one that displays a funeral of a very common man with common people gathered is rather odd. This uniqueness of a painting that is trying to paint everything but something unique is what made Courbet stand out and what shifted the art movement.

After viewing the particular images in the painting and understanding what it is depicting, the techniques he used and positioning of items in the art give further insight into his message. Courbet had relegated the open grave, grave digger, and group carrying the coffin to the extreme left of the composition. In so doing he has altered the composition of the print that had influenced him, giving less importance to these three elements and paying much greater attention to the funeral procession. This is an important quote from James McCarthy which displays how the positioning choice Courbet made. By putting the grave, grave digger, and group carrying the coffin, what is usually the focus of a painting, to the left means that the people who are more towards the middle and the right side of the painting are the important aspects of the painting. Even though the people themselves are not great humans to the rest of the world Courbet is showing that they are important to him and he is also displaying the realism of the painting by not letting some romantic image overtake the ordinary people. Another important thing to look at in the painting is the sea of black that is displayed over the group of 12 to 13 people on the right. The bodies are interconnected to through the black, and it guides the eye over each not stopping at any, but merely making you acknowledge them at a whole. When attending a real funeral for a loved one, all the people who come to recognize the death simply became a mass of individuals when looked at it. It is also essential to the painting because the black color continues right until there is no more canvas giving the viewer on of two feels. The first feeling is that they will feel that the attenuation of illusion in the rendering of the grace makes that implication anything but emphatic. and the other one is that the viewer may feel like he or she is joining the sea of people. While acknowledging the different characters Courbet put in the painting along with the different techniques and positioning he used.One can see why the image has a such a deep meaning and contrasting interpretations, but to fully understand why this painting led the realism movement and made Courbet famous in the art world you have to look at what was going on in the period.

Courbet lived in Paris while the country was going through political turmoil. Shifts in power took place multiple times and significantly impacted the art world. Gustave, with the ability to challenge norms in society, was voted head of the realism movement in 1848, right when he began painting A Burial at Ornans. In 1848 the Salon also became Jury free for a single year because of the New Republic, so Courbet capitalized and submitted ten paintings. The next year the government shifted power again to be ruled by Napoleon III. Napoleon wanted nothing to do with Courbets paintings, he in fact actively disliked them. This challenged that Gustave faced is probably the most impressive one. He lost respect at the Salon and struggled to display his art for the world to see and make a difference. Finally, when most of his art was rejected from the World Exhibition in 1855, decided to do something nobody else has done. He made his gallery right next to the exhibition for everyone to see all his works giving him the freedom to display what he wanted when he wanted.

The letters that Gustave Courbet wrote some not published described an artist who brought his pieces of art forwards in different ways that shaped the way she communicated with them. Being one of the most prominent and well-known figures who played a role in the rise of the use of modern painting it is still a mystery what she spoke in his letters given the huge level of difference in his attitudes interest and attitudes as portrayed in the contents of the messages.

Despite his immense creativity and the keenness in developing artworks, his mind was mostly inclined towards the creation of paintings that describes his personal life, business and the arts that were currently doing at that moment. The visualization of the visuals that came from the viewing of this art brought captivated someone to think outside of what Courbet had created.

The paintings done by Courbet such as the self -portrait is that it has some accurate information that this artist wanted to communicate to the people. In the picture despite the notion that he was in a good state of health when came up with the self-portrait, he imagined himself in some doing other things that made him happy.

Being an artist and an important person in the emergence of realism, his artwork was solely focused on the physical reality of the objects around him. The exile to Switzerland resulted from his political views on certain issues that he believed could liberate the peasants from his community. He death in exile, however, did not end his legacy as his works are now known worldwide and are considered a hero and vital contributor to the development of art. Among his major accomplishment was working briefly for the government and response to political happenings at that made him considered a hero and champion for the rights of the people.

The ideas behind Courbet paintings have been contradictory in the way he presented them to the people and how he communicated with them. The composition of his artwork especially in the burial of organs lacked the exact structure and how it related to the burial. The composition was considered were seen as a horror one gave the altercation he did from the original piece of work he had done. Courbet in his work had focused more on the proceedings of the funeral rather the compositions that makes these paintings. The rearrangement describes how different the group of people were rearranged in this art to fit the procedure that was happening in the funeral. He contradicts his original work here due to the changed in mind and focus on the burial of Ornan.

Courbet success did not go without any form of criticism towards his work, apart from getting the success he received criticisms in equal measure. Some described his paintings as childish and that he is unskilled in the work of art. However just like any other artist he had to have critics familiar to all people working in art. this period the shapes of art were not that good but we must give credit to him for excellent visuals that made him have critics. Using the traditional methods, Courbet could still do paintings that explained what he felt about what was happening in France political arena in most instances.

Paintings drawn reminds us of what occurred in the past, and they make us picture on what it looked like in the past. Art is also important in ensuring that some important historical activities are kept well and preserved. It also observes to remind the people of the importance of making the popular imagery of the history of the citizens from many aspects such as the political, social, and religious issues. Modern imagery communicates a lot to the people themselves and makes people see the connection with many problems within the society. Courbet through painting gave him a platform to talk on behalf of the peasants and share his personal life through artworks. Courbet paintings enabled us to have a sense of realism.

The journey of Gustave Courbet into art began monumental painting specifically on the Burial at Ornans drawing his inspiration mainly from the Dutch civic guards. He rigorously composed the painting using a sound technique that provokes thinking of the people on what humanity is like. He approached this idea in an original and innovative manner using a great genre to present an ordinary subject. Despite much outcry of this painting many people came to agree that this will form the pillar of realization in the modern world. Paintings can good visuals used to communicate various...

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Art Essay Sample on A Burial at Ornans by Gustave Courbet. (2021, Jun 25). Retrieved from

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