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Gustave Courbet 3: Allegory
In the mid-1850s, Gustave Courbet painted several fine landscapes, mainly of the countryside around his native Ornans. He also painted one of the most enigmatic works of the entire century, shown below. For the Exposition Universelle to be held in Paris in 1855, he submitted a total of fourteen... Read more
Constantin Meunier 2 The sweat of their brow
Today, Constantin Meunier (1831–1905) is best known for his gritty paintings of coal mining and foundries in Belgium in the late nineteenth century, and his sculpture. He started to paint these motifs in 1880, when he was commissioned to paint industrial parts of the country. He continued to paint... 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
Dickens’ A Christmas Carol in paintings
A Christmas Carol was not Charles Dickens’ first attempt at a Christmas story, but probably remains the most successful of any writer in the English language. Published on 19 December 1843, the first edition had completely sold out by 24 December, and in its first year was released in... Read more
Into the Light: Charles Demuth, Precisionism, and flowers
No time can ever have been an easy one for a professional painter, but the early twentieth century was more turbulent than most. If an artist did not reinvent and restyle their work every few years, they risked being dismissed as outdated. But some seemed to do that anyway,... Read more
Surgery, sinners, and soirées: the paintings of Henri Gervex
Having come across the ‘naturalism’ of Christian Krohg, I’m going to look at a few artists who have been grouped with him in this mysterious movement. It’s not an easy task, because ‘naturalism’ was really defined not in the visual arts, but in literature, with Émile Zola (1840-1902) as... Read more
Gleaners, Markets and Scientists: Paintings of Léon Lhermitte 1
Among the many wonderful paintings in the Musée d’Orsay, in Paris, is a large canvas showing a sprawling group of farmworkers being paid for their labour during the harvest. For many, this is the only work by Léon Augustin Lhermitte (1844–1925) which they will ever see. There are also... Read more
Amsterdam for Real: Paintings of George Breitner 1
I can’t think why I hadn’t heard of George Hendrik Breitner (1857–1923). He was a major figure in painting in the Netherlands at the time, he painted with Vincent van Gogh, was an early adopter of photography as an aid to his painting, and an innovative photographer in his... Read more
Strikes, Politics, and Zola’s ‘Germinal’: Paintings of Alfred Roll
Naturalism is regarded as a predominantly literary phenomenon, centred on the novels of Émile Zola, which are visually vivid in their descriptive passages. In painting, it has almost slipped altogether from art history, and is normally viewed as being a limited and local phase. In these articles, which I... Read more
Down and Out in Catania: paintings of Antonino Gandolfo
Last week, I looked at some surviving narrative paintings by the Sicilian artist Giuseppe Sciuti (1834–1911). His last teacher, before he had to work as a decorative painter, was Antonino Gandolfo (1841–1910), who I described as “a notable social realist and portrait painter” in the city of Catania at... Read more