Jean Desire Gustave Courbet - (1819 - 1877) was a French painter who led the Realist movement in 19th-century French painting. The Realist movement bridged the Romantic movement characterized by the paintings of Theodore Gericault and Eugene Delacroix, with the Barbizon School and the Impressionists. Courbet was an innovator and as an artist willing to make bold social commentary in his work. Courbet was a painter of figurative compositions, landscapes, seascapes, and still-lifes. He courted controversy by addressing social issues in his work, and by painting subjects that were considered vulgar: the rural bourgeoisie and peasantry, and the working conditions of the poor. His work belonged neither to the predominant Romantic nor Neoclassical schools. History painting, which the Paris Salon esteemed as a painters highest calling, did not interest Courbet, who stated that the artists of one century are basically incapable of reproducing the aspect of a past or future century ... Instead, he believed that the only possible source for a living art is the artists own experience.
"Beauty, like truth, is relative to the time when one lives and to the individual who can grasp it. The expression of beauty is in direct ratio to the power of conception the artist has acquired." Gustave Courbet