Gustave Courbet, a French Realist painter, created “The Greyhounds of the Comte de Choiseul” in 1866. This painting is considered one of Courbet’s most famous works and is oil on canvas, measuring 89 x 117 cm. The portrait depicts the Comte de Choiseul’s greyhounds and reflects the rise of animal portraits during that time. Wealthy individuals commissioned such paintings to preserve memories of their beloved pets.
Courbet was born in 1819 and led the Realist movement in 19th-century French painting. This movement focused on representing physical reality based on observed objects and championed peasants as well as country folk. In “The Greyhounds of the Comte de Choiseul,” Courbet applied this philosophy to his depiction of animals – an unusual choice for a portrait painter at that time.
The painting now belongs to the Saint Louis Art Museum’s collection. Its historical significance lies not only in being a representation of animal portraiture but also in its political undertones, which reflect Courbet’s rebellious nature – he styled himself as both an artistic and political rebel.