Gustave Courbet

Reclining Woman

Reclining Woman
(click image to zoom-in)
Author: Gustave Courbet
Painting, Oil on canvas, 77x128 cm
Origin: France, Circa 1865/1866

In Courbet's portrayal of the nude female body, two opposing tendencies emerged quite early: he could either display the body following the aesthetic ideals of Parisian society of the time or, on the contrary, show it with heightened realism.

Reclining Woman reflects the artist's hesitation as to whether he should act in the spirit of realism or follow tradition as he understood it. Courbet chose the former, even if his realism in that case made some concession to academic convention.

Concerning this figure in the natural setting, it can be noted that the sensuality of the reclining woman is expressed not only in the contours of her body but also in the colour of her hair. By echoing the colour of the woman's hair in the golden-red foliage of the background, the artist sought to unify the landscape - nature - with the nymph, its most beautiful embodiment.

Style: Realism
Source of entry: formerly in the collection of Bernhard Koehler, Berlin
Transferred from Germany after World War II

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