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Isolated Rock (Le Rocher isolé)

Gustave Courbet

European Art

Gustave Courbet’s paintings of the shorelines in Normandy portray the land as subject to continuous, if gradual, change. Here, he focuses on a single large rock at the edge of the water. Smaller rocks around it and the several just visible above the surf imply an ongoing process of erosion. Applying his paint with a palette knife in broad, rough patches and strokes, Courbet evokes the windblown clouds and the coarse texture of the rock, giving them equal visual and material weight.

By the 1860s, Courbet was the leader and champion of Realism—a movement and approach that typically focused on contemporaneous people, places, and things and found significance in subject matter previously considered to be without artistic value or interest. He recounted his position as a Realist artist in an 1861 letter, stating, “Painting is an essentially concrete art, and can consist only of representation of real and existing things.”
MEDIUM Oil on canvas
  • Place Made: France
  • DATES ca. 1862
    DIMENSIONS 25 1/2 x 32 in. (64.8 x 81.3 cm) frame: 33 1/8 x 39 5/8 x 2 3/4 in. (84.1 x 100.6 x 7 cm)  (show scale)
    SIGNATURE Signed lower left: "G. Courbet."
    COLLECTIONS European Art
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Mrs. Horace O. Havemeyer
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Gustave Courbet (French, 1819–1877). Isolated Rock (Le Rocher isolé), ca. 1862. Oil on canvas, 25 1/2 x 32 in. (64.8 x 81.3 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mrs. Horace O. Havemeyer, 41.1258 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 41.1258_PS11.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 41.1258_PS11.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2022
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