Un enterrement à Ornan
Un enterrement à Ornan (“A Burial in Ornan”) — Gustave Courbet, 1850.
One of two flippin’ huge paintings by Courbet on display together, this is a big middle finger to the Academy of Fine Arts and its sensibilities, and a manifesto for realism in art. Whereas official juries preferred fine details and soft tonal gradients, here the tones are harsh, the brushwork rough, and the blacks overwhelming. Instead of idealised mythology or history, the subject matter is mundane and the figures are aggressively unartistic — in fact, many were modelled on people the artist knew from the real Ornan, his home town.