I remember when I first saw this how I thought it was a drab sort of painting (it was a poor slide projection I was looking at on a dirty art school wall) but then I learned about it, and about the social statement its creator Gustave Courbet is making. Courbet is the bloke on the right, with his chin up, not doffing his cap to the laird of the manor figure, nor to his humble servant, cap in hand, nor to his noble hound. Courbet said this: I am fifty years old and I have always lived in freedom; let me end my life free; when I am dead let this be said of me: ‘He belonged to no school, to no church, to no institution, to no academy, least of all to any régime except the régime of liberty.
I may do a Courbet week, it’s not impossible. He has some excellent paintings in his repertoire; his self portrait (The Desperate Man) is une cracker.