Cultured Wednesday: Courbet’s Deer Taking Shelter in Winter

If one were to paint what is going on in the woods right now…

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Something fitting with the season today:  Gustave Courbet, not with his (arguably most) famous self-portrait as The Desperate Man or any of his more notorious works, but with a landscape paintings: Deer Taking Shelter in Winter.

deer-taking-shelter-in-winter-1866
Gustave Courbet: Deer Taking Shelter in Winter (1866)

Courbet, born in 1819 in Ornans in France, bridged the gap between Romanticism and the Impressionist school of painters, that is, he went from a kinder look at and a kinder portrayal of the world to a more ‘realistic’ view, and hence, harsher paintings and a harsher lifestyle.

The above painting is from a phase when Courbet painted hunting scenes alongside ‘sensational works’, as the Wiki phrases it, which brought him both sales, from the former, and a safe place in all the gossip of Europe, from the latter.

Gustave Courbet died on the last day of 1877 in Switzerland at the age of 58.

Personally, I don’t care for the sensational stuff, but his Deer Taking Shelter in Winter I find delightful in its contrasts, both in the colors and the portrayal of the deer.  A scene you just might walk into if you go out hiking these days.  Don’t forget your orange vest, though, just so you’re not mistaken for a deer yourself!

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