The painting I have chosen is Portrait of a desperate man, by Gustave Courbet. It was painted between 1843 and 1845. It is an oil painting on canvas and its dimensions are 44 x 55 cm. At the moment it is part of a private collection. The painting is also known as Courbet’s Self-portrait.
It represents a young man who looks to the viewer with hopelessness and impatience. The man is touching the superior part of his head with his left hand and his hair with his right hand. His eyes are very open, simulating fright or hopelessness and his mouth is half-open. The composition is triangular. The main colors are white and brown, although in the low part there is a little of grey and blue in the kerchief.
The light emphasizes the nose and the elbow of the desperate man, who is putting pressure on the surface of the painting. The undulation of the grey kerchief in the inferior part has a softening effect.
On this painting, Courbet wanted to eliminate any distance between the figure represented and the viewer, trying to save the existing space between both and unifying them in one only ground.
It can be considered to be a realist work because the author wanted to show the hopelessness of a man with complete realism at a specific moment. This author is known for his complete reality on his paintings.
Courbet was very criticized during his time, because he was very realistic, he represented the things as they are, without restraints and for that reason, many of his works were denounced and they haven’t been showed until the last century in a continuous way. He frequently said: «If I don’t scandalize, I will die» .He was considered to be a «dangerous revolutionary»
Other works by Courbet:
I really like this painting because it is amazing how the man of the portrait is so close to the observer! This man is also so handsome and he looks like Johnny Depp. I think he is also very similar to Cillian Murphy.
Courbet made many self-portraits. Artists painted self-portraits, because they were cheaper and they didn’t have to pay professional models to pose for them.
If we look at his self-portraits, we can see that he might have been a very handsome man. For him, portraying himself was as writing an autobiography. He drew himself a lot of times and in different positions and places.
When he was very young, 23 years old, he made a self-portrait as a romantic artist and nature lover.
Six years later, when he started having success, he made a self-portrait as a painter looking over his shoulder, with a little frivolous and arrogant pose.
In another one, he represented himself as an injured man, leaning on a tree. It seems that initially he portrayed himself as a sleeping man with a woman next to him, but after a love disillusion, he replaced the woman for the sword and he drew a wound on his chest.
This drawing is a self-portrait made with charcoal, which represents the author working in his studio.
Other self-portraits are:
Other artists similar to Courbet and their self-portraits:
Jean Francois Millet used to paint peasant's life.
Camille Corot belonged to the Barbizon School, they were a group of painters who showed great interest on landscapes.
The most important Spanish painters of this period were: