A Burial at Ornans

Topics: Impressionism, Gustave Courbet, Paul Cézanne Pages: 4 (1489 words) Published: December 31, 2011
1) “A Burial At Ornans”. About forty peasant mourners are depicted in this painting by the French painter Gustave Courbet. This work was done between 1849 and1850, around the period of the 1848 French revolution where art became oppositional to the idealistic portrayals of society. Courbet communicated a very insightful reasoning that somewhat introduced his style: “Since art is ideal, anything that is not art must be what is real”. Courbet was a realist painter ; his principles were based on Realism. He emphasizes the modern and the current, depicting aspects of everyday life. Thus, he rejected the principles of the neoclassicist and romantic artists who were inspired by idealism and the past, and with the constant need to return to it; a characteristic of bourgeois art. We can see very clearly that the painting illustrates one of the many aspects of daily life: a burial. It was common for the officials of the Church to attend such religious ceremonies because there was church authority at the time. But, is the painting really religious? The artist is against idealized bourgeois art! Thus, this painting is not really religious, and it frames Courbet as an avant-garde and modern artist. I don’t consider the theme of this painting religious. It seems religious if the viewer looks at the general composition of the painting that includes three main parts: the cross, the members of the clergy, and the mourning people. However, if one looks closely, he/she sees expressionless faces looking in all directions without even focusing on one point, which should obviously be the grave. The grave, which should be the center of attention, is ignored by the people who at this moment were definitely thinking of something else. Moreover, the Church officials have red cheeks and ball-shaped noses, making the viewer assume that they are drunk or greedy. It is very offensive to portray spiritual leaders in such a satirical manner. Therefore, Courbet is undermining Church authority....
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