Facebook Crosspost: 2020-May-30

Looking for inspiration for your “Portraits of the Pandemic” exhibition submission? What about some inspiration from art history?

Featured Historic Self Portrait: Gustave Courbet

French painter Gustave Courbet (1819-1877) was the leader of the Realism movement in 19th-century French painting. Rejecting academic convention and the Romanticism of the previous generation of visual artists, Courbet’s work reflected the unvarnished truth of life as he saw it.

Gustave Courbet, Le Désespéré (1845)

Courbet made numerous self-portraits, both as a method off self-promotion and as a way of finding his artistic style. For an artist who espoused realism many of his self-portraits are decidedly romantic in nature. His self-portrait Le Désespéré (1845) nearly leaps off the canvas. It shows the wild-eyed 24-year old artist staring out at the viewer, his hands tearing at his unkempt hair. Courbet presents himself as the tortured genius struggling for recognition and something to eat.

The self-portrait meant a great deal to Courbet as he took it with him to exile in Switzerland and it remained in his studio until his death.

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