Gustave Courbet was born during the summer of 1819 in the small town of Ornans. Courbet grew up in a great environment and a supportive family. He loved physical activities such as playing in the vineyard, swimming with his sisters in the Loue River. In his school days, he was the center of attraction with his charm and wit. Courbet's general education had a solid base, but his art training was moderate. When he was 14, he took lessons from a painter. He studied law at a local college and struggled until a drawing teacher invited him to take lessons for painting in his home studio, giving him a boost to pursue his career as an artist.
When Courbet was 21, he moved to Paris. He didn't enroll for any top art institute, rather avoided study in the studios as well. Courbet took lessons from art teachers but mostly taught himself by copying the art of great painters of that time. When he traveled to Holland, he was able to copy the paintings of Velasquez and Rembrandt. The students had to wait for a year to pick the brush in the academy, but Courbet jumped directly to painting. He used to copy the classical painting, again and again, to get to know about the secrets. He painted by taking inspiration from nature and plain models in his independent study time.
After coming home, he started painting his friends and family too.
Courbet focused on realist mode painting during his time in Paris, and he also declined a request to paint Angels for a Church. Instead of that, he painted people and expressed their glorious ordinariness in a great way. In 1848 he was chosen to be the leader of the realist movement in Paris. In 1848 under the new republic, the Paris salon became jury-free for a year, which allowed Courbet to submit ten paintings, and they made a great impression. And Courbet won a gold medal for that. Under the rules of the academy, the gold medal has immunity to Courbet for future selection committees. And he enjoyed it until 1857, when the rule was replaced with a new one.
Without the protection, many paintings would have been rejected. Courbet's paintings showed rural realism, and because of that, critics were uncomfortable because it shows Democratic politics.
In 1860, Courbet painted erotic nudes, Landscape, seascapes, and hunting scenes. His artwork promoted a new vision and inspired other artists, especially the seascapes, which pointed to the impressionist. His water painting was a reflection of the water itself. Courbet's nudes challenged the norms of his days. For most of his career, Courbet was not regarded well by the state institutions and French academy. But in the year 1870, he was awarded the greatest French order of merit, which he turned down. For him, honor was neither a title nor a ribbon; it was only the actions. Courbet never got married, and he stated that his work didn't allow him to settle down.
In 1872 he proposed to a young woman through a letter, but the women refused.
When the French were in the Franco-Prussian war, Courbet was selected as the chairman of a Republican arts commission. Under his watch, the place which Napoleon-I created got destroyed, which lead him to imprisonment in 1871 for six months. Then he spent the latter part of his life in a clinic when he became sick. After that, he was addicted to alcohol and died of heavy drinking and liver damage in 1877.