Gustave Courbet’s self-portrait, The Wounded Man, is a realist oil painting created in 1854. The painting features Courbet as a heroic figure in a romantic theme. Originally, a woman was leaning on the artist’s shoulder but was eventually replaced with a sword after ending of his love affair. The red bloodstain on the shirt represents his suffering and adds context to his pained expression.
The Wounded Man is one of many self-portraits depicted by Courbet throughout his career that often made aesthetic and moral statements. Unlike the Romantic school of painters who sought to produce idealized versions of reality, Courbet employed spontaneous brush strokes and rough textures to create realistic representations.
Courbet is known for being charismatic but could come off arrogant at times; however, he required such traits to promote the Realism art movement that focused on representing scenes from everyday life realistically. Another notable self-portrait completed by Courbet earlier in his career titled The Desperate Man expresses an emotional and psychological state.