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WHAT IS GUSTAVE COURBET?

HOW CAN ONE TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE COURBET YEAR? After all, that’s what I’m hoping this year will become. I saw the major retrospective in Paris last winter, when it was showing at the Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais; it is now on view at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art until May 18 and makes its final stop in June at the Musée Fabre in Montpellier, France. Notably, for this exhibition, the Fabre, home to so many of Courbet’s major works, loaned out La Rencontre, or Bonjour Monsieur Courbet—whose title the painter’s contemporaries parodied by calling it La Fortune saluant le génie (Fortune Saluting the Genius). The character of their humor becomes clear when we consider the entry on this painting in the catalogue raisonné, which quotes critic Paul Mantz from 1868, the year Alfred Bruyas donated the work to the Fabre:

In the year 1854 Courbet had a serious accident[:] he painted

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