Funeral in Ornan by Gustave Courbet

Funeral in Ornan by Gustave Courbet

Courbet began painting in 1849, in a cramped attic in Ornan. The work of the artist caused a stir among the local society that fell into its heroes – it was attended by many inhabitants of these places: from the mayor and the magistrate to the relatives and friends of Courbet.

But this turmoil and could not compare with the controversy that flared up after the canvas was exhibited in the Salon. Puzzling and misunderstanding caused by its size. It was agreed that ordinary rural funerals should not be the subject of such a large-scale work.

One of the critics wrote: “The funeral of a peasant

can move us… But we should not localize this event so much.” However, it was precisely such a “localization” that was extremely important for realists. Courbet created a modern, easily recognizable image, capturing people’s canvas and the realities of their time. In addition, he focused on the very process of a person’s funeral, and not on his deeds or on the posthumous fate of his soul. At the same time, the identity of the deceased remains anonymous, turning into a collective image of death. This makes the picture a modernized version of the very popular in the Middle Ages story, known as the Dance of Death.

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