Letters of Gustave Courbet

Gustave Courbet, Author, Petra ten-Doesschate Chu, Translator University of Chicago Press $91 (733p) ISBN 978-0-226-11653-2
Containing all of Gustave Courbet's (1819-1877) known letters--more than 600--this massive volume explodes the notion of the artist as a naive provincial, an image he himself constructed and carefully nurtured. Full of pithy remarks, colorful descriptions and cultural allusions, the correspondence reveals the French realist painter as an ambitious self-promoter who craved material success and was keenly aware of the artist's precarious status in a market-driven economy. Among Courbet's correspondents were Baudelaire, Monet, Hugo and anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon. Reflecting his development from spoiled teenager to symbol of political resistance, these energetic, offhand letters express Courbet's defiance of authority in all forms, his hatred of imperialism, his tweaking of the art establishment, participation in the Paris Commune, tragic decline and his death in exile in Switzerland. Chu, an art history professor at Seton Hall University in New Jersey, accompanies the letters with 40 halftones. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/16/1992
Release date: 03/01/1992
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