Between 1862 and 1866 Gustave Courbet embarked on a series of sensuous landscape paintings that would later inspire the likes of Monet, Pissarro, and Cézanne. This series has long been neglected in favor of Courbet’s paintings of rural French life. Courbet’s Landscapes: The Origins of Modern Painting explores these astonishing paintings, staking a claim for their importance to Courbet’s work and later developments in French modernism.
Ranging from the grottoes of Courbet’s native Franche-Comté to the beaches of Normandy, Paul Galvez follows the artist on his travels as he uses a palette-knife to transform the Romantic landscape of voyage into a direct, visceral confrontation with the material world. The Courbet he discovers is not the celebrated history painter of provincial life, but a committed landscapist whose view of nature aligns him with contemporary developments in geology, history, linguistics, and literature.