Self-Portrait with a Black Dog (1841) by Gustave Courbet

Self-Portrait with a Black Dog - Gustave Courbet - 1841

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Artwork Information

TitleSelf-Portrait with a Black Dog
ArtistGustave Courbet
Dimensions46.3 x 55.5 cm
Art MovementRomanticism
Current LocationPetit Palais, Paris, France

About Self-Portrait with a Black Dog

The artwork “Self-Portrait with a Black Dog” is an oil painting on canvas by the artist Gustave Courbet, created in the year 1841. It is a work reflective of the Romanticism movement and measures 46.3 x 55.5 cm. This self-portrait genre piece is currently housed in the Petit Palais in Paris, France.

The artwork captures the essence of the Romantic movement, which emphasized individuality, emotion, and a connection with nature. In the foreground, Gustave Courbet portrays himself with a strong presence, wearing a somber black outfit complemented by a wide-brimmed hat that casts a shadow over his enigmatic expression. His gaze is direct and seems to engage the viewer with an intense and contemplative look. The presence of a large, attentive black dog by his side adds to the emotional depth of the portrait. Courbet’s firm hand on the dog suggests a bond and perhaps a symbolic protector or companion.

The setting is outdoors, likely intended to represent the wild and natural landscapes that were favored by Romantic artists. The backdrop of the artwork features a rocky outcrop and a hint of a vast expanse behind, with a sky that transitions from the solid earth tones of the cliff to the soft pastels reflecting the light and openness of the sky. This contrast amplifies the sense of freedom and the grandeur of nature, both key themes in Romantic art. The inclusion of books by Courbet’s feet may hint at intellectual pursuits or comment on the artist’s self-image as a learned individual.

The artwork, with its personal and expressive qualities, is a testament to Courbet’s skill as an artist and a storyteller, capturing not only his physical likeness but also a rich tapestry of emotional and conceptual layers that invite introspection.

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