THE RISE AND FALL OF GUSTAVE COURBET
The early career of Gustave Courbet is discussed within the historical context of class struggles during the middle of the nineteenth century. The Realism in Courbet’s paintings of the 1850s manifested itself not only in politically controversial content but also in aesthetic decisions, which challenged Salon conventions. However, through canny self-promotion and his ability to take advantage of opportunity, Courbet rose to prominence in the Salon system. Never popular with the Academicians, Courbet acquired important critical support and had devoted patrons. But in the 1860s his politically active art changed and he seemed to be in the thrall of wealthy collectors, until the Commune of 1871. After the Franco-Prussian War, Courbet seemed to remember his political passions, but this renewed dedication to causes would bring him down.