Hector Berlioz (1850) by Gustave Courbet

Hector Berlioz - Gustave Courbet - 1850

Artwork Information

TitleHector Berlioz
ArtistGustave Courbet
Dimensions61 x 48 cm
Art MovementRealism
Current LocationMusée d'Orsay, Paris, France

About Hector Berlioz

The artwork titled “Hector Berlioz” is an oil on canvas portrait by Gustave Courbet created in 1850. Measuring 61 x 48 cm, this work exemplifies the Realism movement. Encapsulating the genre of portraiture, the painting is currently housed in the Musée d’Orsay, located in Paris, France.

The artwork presents an intense and introspective portrayal of a man, presumed to be the composer Hector Berlioz, who is known for his significant contributions to the romantic era in music. The figure is depicted in a half-length pose against a dark, indistinct background which directs the viewer’s attention squarely to the sitter. The use of light and shadow across the man’s face reveals a furrowed brow, a fixed gaze, and a somewhat sunken countenance, contributing to a sense of character and depth.

Courbet’s signature at the bottom left corner ties his identity to the creation. The painting’s realism is evident in the naturalistic representation of the subject, eschewing the idealization typical of earlier art movements. The brushwork is subtle, yet it effectively conveys texture and the interplay of light that sculpts the man’s features.

This particular portrait is notable for its psychological depth, a characteristic of Courbet’s approach to portraiture that aligns with Realism’s objective to depict subjects truthfully without artificiality, and with a focus on the mundane or the actual experience of life.

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