Gustave Courbet (French, 1819–1877),
Coast Scene — Approaching Storm
, ca. 1870
oil on canvas, 21 ¾ x 15 ½ in.; 55.25 x 39.37 cm
Museum purchase, 1957.337
Founder of the Realist movement, Courbet advocated art that represented the visible world truthfully and accurately. In this spirit he painted urban and rural scenes, portraits, nudes, still lifes, as well as landscapes imbued with an almost mythic quality. In the 1860s, Courbet produced a number of majestic seascapes. This small canvas relates to a larger composition in Paris’ Musée d’Orsay, Stormy Sea, shown in the 1870 Salon exhibition. It is painted in Courbet’s characteristic manner: paint, applied thickly with the palette knife, replicates the textural quality of elements — rough wood, coarse sand, foamy surf — and gives the viewer a visceral experience of the pictured scene.