Gustavo Coubert the Great painter and the Realist Movement in Art

M G SinghStarred Page By M G Singh, 1st Apr 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Art>Forms & Genres

Gustav Coubert whose works are displayed in various museums struck a great blow for the realist movement by painting a woman and scenes as we see them. his name is at the top bracket as a great painter of the realist movement


The world of art and painting is as old as history. From the earliest time paintings and art have dominated the ethos of man. Thus there are ancient cave paintings from the prehistoric age to the modern art of the present era. One aspect that has dominated art is painting a woman in the nude. This is one of god’s greatest gifts and obviously painters have tried to do justice to this aspect, by painting women in the nude.

Nude Art and Human hair

A look at the nude paintings of almost 2000 years and even more, one can see that 99% of them were devoid of human hair. Women were presented as porcelain models that had no hair. Thus the Greek and Roman paintings including from Egypt and India depicted women without hair. The famous paintings from the Greek era show the beautiful Greek goddesses as hairless beauties. Obviously this was something unreal and a new breed of painters in France in the 19th century took it upon themselves to bring about realism in their paintings.

One of these painters is Gustavo Coubert (1819-77). Gustav was among a new breed of painters who advocated realist approach to art. The Realist movement in art is due a lot to him and Eduard Mamet who in 1863 painted Olympia. This painting when displayed in the art show in Paris in 1863 needed two guards to protect it.

The Realist Movement

What was the Realist movement? It was a movement that appeared just after the Romantic Movement. This movement was spearheaded by Theodore Gericault and Eugene Delacroix. The Romantic Movement concentrated on paintings that pleased the eye. Gustavo brought in the realist movement where he painted nudes, landscapes and still life as seen from the eyes of man. This obviously necessitated the painting of subjects that some considered vulgar.

Gustavo painted the harshness of life and he also painted women as he saw them complete with pubic hair. He brought into question the age old ethics of art.

Gustav and the Church

In 1866 Gustavo took on the church and prudery head on by oil- painting one of his most notorious paintings. Titled the L'Oringine du Monde (Origin of the world). The painting is presently displayed in the Musee d'Orsay, Paris. The painting is a close up view of a woman who is nude and sleeping on a bed. The painting by Gustave is a part of what he believed-realism and can be termed as erotic. Gustave used a live model for this painting, a girl named Joanna Hiffernan. She earlier had a love affair with an American painter James Whistler, but after this painting Joanna and Whistler separated.
The 19th century was a revolutionary one as art took a U-turn.

The new breed of painter began to paint slums and the poor as a part of the realist movement. But we must give credit to Gustave Coubert for starting this movement. He is no more but he struck an important blow for art and truth.

Last Word

The realist movement changed the face of art and now men and women have given a different meaning to art. But it cannot be denied that art and erotica are close brethren and that makes life so worth living.


Art, Painting Nude, Paiting Realism, Realist Movement, Womens Hair

Meet the author

author avatar M G Singh
A man who spent his early years in Air Force. An avid writer with over 6000 articles and 60 short stories published.Two novels on the anvil for publication.

Share this page

moderator Steve Kinsman moderated this page.
If you have any complaints about this content, please let us know


author avatar Steve Kinsman
1st Apr 2013 (#)

Great article. Very well presented and very interesting. Thank you Madan.

Reply to this comment

author avatar M G Singh
1st Apr 2013 (#)

Thank you Steve

Reply to this comment

author avatar cnwriter..carolina
1st Apr 2013 (#)

fabulous this Madan...loved it...thank you...

Reply to this comment

author avatar M G Singh
1st Apr 2013 (#)

Thank you cnwriter

Reply to this comment

author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
3rd Apr 2013 (#)

We should not shy away from reality though we should be prudent, but not to the extent of being a prude! Thanks Madan for a unique and educational share with a historic perspective - siva

Reply to this comment

author avatar M G Singh
3rd Apr 2013 (#)

Thank you Shiva

Reply to this comment

author avatar LOVERME
13th Apr 2013 (#)

though you wanted me to poemise
on the painter ,
I partly did justice
but didn't have the gall
nor balls
to show the vulva
one you show boldly

you are one above
a class sexually
multi genetics
is in some one's blood not all
great courage friend
case for and against Sexualism
and the West
hope they listen to the painters call
after all
he was one such painter that's all you marvel me Madan G
a great Sikh that you may be.

An International man a Filipino's stand
best of luck for your boldness
take this poem as your second one.

Reply to this comment

author avatar Sharifa McFarlane
15th Apr 2013 (#)

I have learned more about this artist. The human body is beautiful. It's no wonder why many artists focus on it in some way.

Reply to this comment

Add a comment
Can't login?