Provocateur, father of realism, and a man of complex personality, Courbet was also an excellent landscape painter for whom nature was his principal inspiration. It is not by chance than two thirds of his production consists of panoramas, scenes, glimpses, horizons, and rural landscapes, in which nature is the subject. Gustave Courbet returns to Italy 50 years after the last show dedicated to him.
Palazzo dei Diamanti pays tribute to him with an important retrospective that follows the career of the great French master, exploring in depth his ample production of landscape paintings and his unique relationship with nature. The exhibition will present about 50 works coming from some of the most important international museums and lead the visitor through an exciting itinerary: from the views of his native Franche-Comté painted in his youth, to the spectacular seascapes, often tempest tossed, to the mysterious grottos where springs bubble forth in Karst caves before widening into streams, from sensual nudes immersed in lush greenery to striking hunting scenes, up to the powerful masterpieces of his maturity.
Gifted with a rare sensitivity, his personal but realistic vision of the world brought him to profound innovations in painting. His works, which wavered between echoes of Romanticism and reflections of an Impressionism which was taking its first steps in those years, represented a sure model for Manet, Monet, Degas, and their circle. A dedicated artist and a great painter of the female nude, Courbet always preferred the representation of natural elements, in plein air or in the studio, even when he found himself confronting the social themes that made him famous or focusing on simple scenes of daily life. With Courbet, art was liberated from classical and romantic ideals and the authentic and nature became pivotal to the narratives of his time, keeping as close to the truth as possible. In this sense, his passion for the natural world brought him to “photograph” the most hidden corners of the places he visited in his frequent travels – Paris, his native Ornans and its surrounding areas, the coasts of Normandy and the Mediterranean, Germany, and Switzerland – retaining all the feeling, realistically and lyrically, of damp underbrush, immense skies, seas, streams, waterfalls, rivers, and caves. With Courbet and Nature, the Italian public can rediscover the works of one of the greatest painters of the 19th century, an artist who has left his mark indelibly on his era and pulled French art from the romantic dream to the raw painting of realism, and from this, to a new love for nature.