Gustave Courbet
(1819–1877)

Gustave Courbet, L’aumône d’un mendiant à Ornans (Alms from a beggar at Ornans), 1868, graphite on paper, Collection Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, installation view, Neue Galerie, Kassel, documenta 14, photo: Mathias Völzke

This drawing was made by the French realist master Gustave Courbet as a preparatory sketch for a major painting titled Alms from a Beggar at Ornans (1868), now housed in the Burrell Collection in Glasgow. Courbet’s treatment of the iconography of misery and poverty—a crucial element in the phase of his artistic development that inspired him to “invent” realism—can perhaps be read as a meditation on generosity and the power of sharing and solidarity: a prophetic intimation of the need to invent alternate economies or break the economic stranglehold on human existence.

Posted in Public Exhibition
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