Six distinctive group portraits are now the works for which he is best known. But aren’t they strange, set in comparison with contemporary paintings?
A group portrait which failed so badly that he cut it up after it was shown at the Salon, a portrait of Manet, and another group portrait which inspired Impressionists.
Not an Impressionist by any means, he was a close friend of Whistler and Manet, who painted some of the major group portraits of the late 1800s.
A major influence of realism, leading to Naturalism, and on Impressionism, Courbet was one of those who paved the way for modern art.
After European artists saw Hokusai’s print The Great Wave off Kanagawa, their own depictions became widespread, peaking in 1896.
Becoming involved in the Commune after the Franco-Prussian War, he ended up in prison, finally painting in exile in Switzerland.
The other side of his work in the 1860s: chasing the ‘source’ of rivers near Ornans, serried ranks of waves on the coast, and the help of Corot.
His best-known works of the 1860s are a series of erotic nudes. But two are missing, one destroyed by accident in studio before it could be shown, the other in Berlin in the 20th century.
Met and painted with Sisley, Boudin, and the young Claude Monet, but so poor that other artists auctioned their works to relieve his poverty.
Starting with one of the great problem paintings of the 19th century, he went on to paint hunting scenes, a pair of prostitutes, and a reckless gambler.