Nedelja, 02 Maj 2021 10:42

The Stone Breakers by Gustave Courbet is an expression of poverty Istaknut

The Stone Breakers by the French painter Gustave Courbet was produced in 1849 and is considered to be one of the famous artworks of the Realism movement. The theme is a scene of everyday life in rural areas. The painting was first exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1850. Confronted with the unvarnished realism of imagery, critics derided the ugliness of his figures and dismissed them as "peasants in their Sunday best". The painting was destroyed during World War II, along with 154 other pictures, when a transport vehicle moving the pictures to the castle of Königstein, near Dresden, was bombed by Allied forces in February 1945. Similar work can be viewed at Gemaldegalerie, Dresden.

Gustave Courbet described the inspiration for work in a letter to his friends the art critic Francis Wey and Champfleury: "It is not often that one encounters so complete an expression of poverty and so, right then and there I got the idea for a painting. I told them to come to my studio the next morning."

In painting The Stone Breakers Gustave Courbet set the two workers in monumental form against a low hill common in the rural French town of Ornan, where he had been raised and continued to spend much of his time. Two workers, without any apparent sentiment emotion labor to break and remove a stone from a road that is being built. Their clothes are tattered and ill-fitting. There are a cooking pot, a loaf of bread, and a spoon on the left, on an old cloth. On the right is a basket to carry debris, with a scythe lying on the rocks between the workers.

Gustave Courbet has used the difference in stone breakers ages to symbolize the cycle of poverty. The kneeling old man is beating gravel by the roadside, and behind him stands a boy with a basket of gravel. One is now too old and almost lacks the strength to wield the hammer whilst the other is almost too young and almost lacks the strength to carry his burden. Their differing ages symbolizes the circle of poverty, which will haunt the lower classes throughout their lives. Workers are in strong light across the foreground of the painting, with the shadow of the hills behind them and only a small patch of blue in the upper right. The hill reaches to the top of the canvas everywhere but the upper right corner, where a tiny patch of bright blue sky appears. The effect is to isolate these workers and to suggest that they are physically and economically trapped.

Gustave Courbet has used a very limited palette. It is only the small amount of blue/grey and orange which brings relief from the muted earthy colors.

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