Gustave Courbet

Landscape with a Dead Horse

Landscape with a Dead Horse
(click image to zoom-in)
Author: Gustave Courbet
Landscape, Painting, Oil on canvas, 45x56 cm
Origin: France, Second half of the 1850s

The Hermitage has but this one work by the French realist painter Gustave Courbet. Its subject seems to reflect the spirit of Romanticism, with an intriguing sense of mystery. In the centre of the composition is the bright, white corpse of a horse, lying on the edge of the road. Beyond it we see the figure of a man running with a bundle in his hand. What has happened - a crime? an accident? - remains unclear.

It has been suggested that the source of inspiration for the work may have been Charles Baudelaire's "La Charogne" , from his collection of poems, Les Fleurs du Mal. Courbet's daring placing of a dead horse at the centre of attention reflects his conviction that art should reflect all the prosaic unsightliness of real life.

Style: Realism
Source of entry: Museum of the Academy of Arts, Petrograd, 1922
Exibition: French Art: 19th - 20th centuries

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