A Burial at Ornans (1849-1850) by Gustave Courbet

A Burial at Ornans - Gustave Courbet - 1849 - 1850

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Artwork Information

TitleA Burial at Ornans
ArtistGustave Courbet
Date1849 - 1850
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions315 x 668 cm
Art MovementRealism
Current LocationMusée d'Orsay, Paris

About A Burial at Ornans

“A Burial at Ornans” is an oil on canvas artwork by Gustave Courbet, crafted between 1849 and 1850. It exemplifies the Realism art movement and is classified as a genre painting. With dimensions of 315 by 668 cm, the monumental work is housed at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. It is one of the major works that established Courbet as a leading figure in the Realism movement.

The artwork portrays a funeral taking place in Courbet’s hometown of Ornans. It is characterized by a somber and realistic representation of the townspeople who have gathered to mourn. The painting does away with idealized depictions of death and instead presents it with stark honesty. A notable feature is the absence of hierarchy in the composition; all the figures, regardless of their social status, are given equal importance, captured at eye level.

The landscape of Ornans provides a subdued background, while the theatrical arrangement of characters in the foreground almost resembles a stage setting. The attire and expressions of the figures are rendered in painstaking detail, reflecting the spectrum of human emotion in the face of death. The presence of everyday individuals rather than grand, heroic figures was groundbreaking at the time and marked a significant moment of departure from traditional historical and religious subjects often found in the art of that era.

Gustave Courbet’s “A Burial at Ornans” is thus both a detailed snapshot of 19th-century provincial life in France and a bold statement on the democratization of art subject matter, reinforcing the ideals of the Realism movement.

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