Teaching Ideas

Encouraging Dialogue

For Students K-12

  • Gustave Courbet was in prison when he made this painting. He would paint from fruits and flowers that his sister gave him while he was imprisoned. If you were an artist stuck in one room and wanted to continue to paint, what subjects would you paint? Would you paint from reality or from your imagination?

  • Courbet was a Realist painter, meaning that he preferred to paint images from everyday life rather than paintings of mythological figures or historic paintings, which were popular at the time. He is quoted in 1861 as saying that "painting is an essentially concrete art and can only consist in the representation of real and existing things." What does this statement mean to you? Do you agree with his opinion?

  • After the French Revolution of 1848, part of which was the result of the working class protesting against their treatment by the monarchy, many French artists turned to Realism in art and literature. Why are these two things connected? Why would artists respond to the Revolution in such a manner?