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Bicentenary of Gustave Courbet, a founding father of modern art
Two hundred years ago today, Gustave Courbet was born in the country town of Ornans in Doubs, in the north-east of France. His paintings were of great influence in the development of art throughout Europe and North America. In my recent series of six articles examining his career and... Read more
Gustave Courbet 2: The group
Before the young Gustave Courbet (1819–1877) had even completed The Stone Breakers, he had already started work on an even greater masterpiece, A Burial at Ornans, one of the canonical paintings of the century. Gustave Courbet (1819–1877), A Burial at Ornans (1849-50), oil on canvas, 315 x 668 cm,... Read more
Gustave Courbet 1: The Desperate Man
Among the immediate precursors to the great art movements of the late nineteenth century, Naturalism and Impressionism, were Eugène Delacroix, Camille Corot, and Gustave Courbet (1819–1877). In a month’s time, we’ll be celebrating the bicentenary of Courbet’s birth, and I hope that you’ll join me in this short series... Read more
A German Naturalist? Fritz von Uhde 2
By the late 1880s, the German painter Fritz von Uhde (1848–1911) had become overtly Naturalist in his themes and style, additionally painting several major religious works. Fritz von Uhde (1848–1911), The Sacred Night (Triptych) (1888-89), oil on canvas, 134.5 x 117 cm, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Dresden, Germany. Wikimedia Commons.... Read more
A German Naturalist? Fritz von Uhde 1
I have another eclectic painter for you: Friedrich Hermann Carl Uhde, generally known as Fritz von Uhde (1848–1911). He has been called “Germany’s outstanding Impressionist”, and claimed to have been a major influence in plein air painting in Germany. He painted military, religious and genre works, and I suspect... Read more
Painting Reality: 9 Summary and Index
Over the last year, I have been gradually amassing articles here as I have been studying Naturalist painting in the late nineteenth century. This is the final article in a series of nine which brings together a summary, indexed against the previous eight articles in the series, links to... Read more
Constantin Meunier 1: Cigar-making, fishermen, and family
In the late nineteenth century, there were many individual artists whose paintings didn’t really conform to any particular school, so defy classification. Constantin Meunier (1831–1905) is a good example: although many of his works have features in common with Naturalism, and he seems to have had connections with Naturalist... Read more
Painting Reality: 8 Outcome
Naturalist painting was only one aspect of Naturalist art in the late nineteenth century. Indeed, mention the movement today and most people think first of literary Naturalism, particularly the novels of Émile Zola. Common to all these was a growing concern over the changes happening in society: rural deprivation... Read more
Painting Reality: 7 Decline
As the nineteenth century drew to a close, Naturalist painting fell from favour. By the opening years of the new century, it was all but dead, and the few remaining Naturalists were shunned and scorned for not moving with the times. This article looks at what happened, and why... Read more
Painting Reality: 6 Science and technology
The height of Naturalist painting, between about 1880-1910, coincided with a period of prodigious scientific and technological advance. In almost every field touched by these, major changes transformed people’s lives, from fast high-speed travel by train and new industrial processes to general anaesthesia for surgery. Although Naturalism had originated... Read more