Evaluating Gustave Coubert, French Painter: Master of the Realist Movement in Art
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Evaluating Gustave Coubert, French Painter: Master of the Realist Movement in Art

Realist movement was a movement that appeared just after the Romantic movement. This movement was spearheaded by Theodore Gericault and Eugene Delacroix. The romantic movement concentrated on paintings that pleased the eye. Gustave brought in the realist movement where he painted nudes, landscapes and still life as seen from the eyes of man. This obviously necessitated the painting of subjects that some considered vulgar

The world of art and painting is as old as history. From the earliest time paintings and art have dominated  the ethos of man. Thus there are ancient cave paintings from the prehistoric age to the modern art of the present era.  One aspect that has dominated art is painting a woman in the nude. This is one of gods greatest gift and obviously painters have tried to do justice to this aspect, by painting women in the nude.

A look at the nude paintings of almost 2000 years and even more, one can see that 99% of them were devoid of human hair. Women were presented as porcelain models who had no hair. Thus the Greek and Roman paintings including from Egypt and India depicted women without hair. The famous paintings from the Greek era show the beautiful Greek goddesses as hairless beauties. Obviously this was something unreal and a new breed of painters in France in the 19th century took it upon themselves to bring about realism in their paintings.Oone of these painters is Gustave Coubert( 1819-77). Gustav was among a new breed of painters who advocated realist approach to art. The Realist movement in art is due a lot to him and Eduard Manet who in 1863 painted Olympia. This painting when displayed in the art show in Paris in 1863 needed two guards to protect it.

What was the Realist movement?  It was a movement that appeared just after the Romantic movement. This movement was spearheaded by Theodore Gericault and Eugene Delacroix. The Romantic movement concentrated on paintings that pleased the eye. Gustave brought in the realist movement where he painted nudes, landscapes and still life as seen from the eyes of man. This obviously necessitated the painting of subjects that some considered vulgar.  Gustave painted the harshness of life and he also painted women as he saw them complete with pubic hair. He brought into question the age old ethics of art.

In 1866 Gustave took on the church and prudery head on by oil- painting one of his most notorious paintings. Titled the L'Oringine du Monde ( Origin of the world). The painting is presently displayed in the Musee d'Orsay, Paris. The painting is a close up view of a woman who is nude and sleeping on a bed. The painting by Gustave is a part of what he believed-realism and can be termed as erotic. Gustave used a live model for this painting, a girl named Joanna Hiffernan. She earlier had a love affair with an American painter  James Whistler, but after this painting Joanna and Whistler  separated.

The 19th century was a revolutionary one as art took a U-turn. The new breed of painter began to paint slums and the poor  as a part of the realist movement. But we must give credit to Gustave Coubert for starting this movement. He is no more but he struck an important blow for art and truth.

The painting L origine du Monde displed in the Musee'Orsay, Paris by Gustave Coubert.

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