Gustave Courbet’s famous painting, “The Meeting” or “Bonjour Monsieur Courbet”, completed in 1854, depicts the artist meeting his patron Alfred Bruyas, Calas (his servant), and his dog out in the countryside. The painting is characterized by its spontaneity and strong social commentary on the working conditions of rural bourgeoisie and poor people. The composition suggests a chance encounter between Courbet and his friends.
Courbet included himself on the right side of the canvas with clues as to how he wished to be seen or thought of himself. Despite the clear qualities of his work, art critics disrespected and rejected it upon its exhibition at the 1855 Universal Exhibition. This caused Courbet to struggle for academic acceptance in France.
Courbet bridged Romanticism and Impressionism through his art. His subversion of traditional norms can be seen through this work’s unconventional format, depicting a group portrait not within an enclosed space but in the open air instead.
Overall, Gustave Courbet’s “The Meeting” is a significant piece that defies conventional artistic standards while serving an important social commentary purpose which provides insight into rural society during this period.