Thursday, January 23, 2014

Realism (pt. 8)

Also, to answer his Romantic elders and contemporaries, Courbet sought to paint the subject of nature in a different light as well.  Similar to Joseph M. W. Turner, Gustave Courbet fixed his efforts in painting nature largely to painting the abstract qualities of nature, or at least, nature for how it really looked and was.  Many of the artist's portrayals of nature are of dark, barren, craggy, and precarious landscapes; he did not idealize a pastoral setting by making it appear perfectly beautiful, like the Romantics.  If a rock was covered in ugly and discolored moss, he painted the rock with the ugly, discolored moss.  Courbet is noted to have said, in direct response to the Romantic technique, "Monsieur Delacroix peint des anges.  Moi je ne peux pas en peindre, je n'en ai jamais vu!" (or, put another way, "Show me an angel, and I will paint one").  The artist argued to have only ever painted what he saw, not what he imagined or believed.  Therefore, his landscape paintings appear different from the idealization of the Romantic tradition.  They are beautiful paintings but more often of muddier streams or cloudier skies.

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