Courbet’s “the Stone Breakers”

1066 WordsOct 19, 20085 Pages
Courbet (1819-1877) is a realistic painter, in that a majority of his work is about everyday scenes, often depicting peasants and working people in rural areas. Howerver, Courbet is also an artist who challenged the traditional painting in the middle of the 19th century. Courbet introduced a new kind of realism, which focused on a rugged depiction of nature and people rather than an idealized and artificial one. Most paintings of the time showed wealthy people, whereas Courbet who was politically involved in socialist causes, applied his political beliefs to art. (Crapo: 240-241) Crapo writes that for Courbet “realism posed a direct challenge to the aesthetic of the academic painters. It meant the unadorned depiction of everyday scenes and…show more content…
(Alexander, 1965) Alexander writes that Courbet studied Renaissance and Baroque paintings from Northern Europe as well as from Italy, and that he liked to mix classical visual ideas with “the straightforward symbolism of children’s drawings and popular prints, and the mechanical realism of the still novel photography.” (Alexander: 447) At the time he painted Stone Breakers he made another work called The Wrestlers which shows two very muscular, almost naked men, wrestling in a field. Their bulky shapes make them look almost like mythological heroes from Ancient Greece. The excavation of Assyrian sculpture at the time had a major influence on the look of the naked figures and the position of figures in Courbet’s work. (Alexander: 448) Assyrian frieze sculpture was notable for “exaggeration of subcutaneous elements, blood vessels, muscles, and bones…” (Alexander: 449) Yet during his career he often faced criticism for being too rigid in his style. (Shapiro, 165) His work was also accused of being primitive and vulgar. (Schapiro: 166) This criticism came not only from art patrons and spectators, but also from other artists, such as Delacroix, also considered a French realist. (Schapiro: 166) Schapiro writes that while Courbet would be influential on later painters, his audience may have not only or primarily been other

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