1000 Books In 10 Years; Vol. 168: Courbet, by Fabrice Masanes

On my recent visit to New York, I had the pleasure of visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art where I discovered two paintings which I fell in love with at once.  One was title The Woman In The Waves, and the other; Woman With A Parrot.  Both were painted by Gustave Courbet, so on my way out I stopped by the Met’s gift shop and where I found a Taschen book featuring Courbet and picked it up instantly.  Considered by some to be the last of the Romantics, Courbet’s career took place at a time when art was changing dramatically, most notably with the Impressionist movement.  Courbet though, seemingly naive to some, held onto the approach of the Romantics and painted in what some call the ‘realist’ style, which was not in fashion at the time.  But his work managed to shine through and Courbet made some majestic pieces as his success grew, the best of which is likely The Studio Of The Painter (Real Allegory Of Seven Years Of My Artistic Life).  By the end of his life Courbet found himself in prison for political crimes and lived in exile as a teacher, his body not even being returned to his home town until the centennial of his birth.  The Taschen book offers biographical information on both Courbet and some of his paintings, and though not comprehensive, it does offer a beautiful collection of high-gloss photos that feature many of the painter’s best work.

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Jason John Horn is a writer and critic who recently completed his Master's in English Literature at the University of Windsor. He has composed a play, a novella and a number of short stories and satirical essays.

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