1844-47, Gustave Courbet
Oil on canvas
65 x 81 cm
The physical presence of the bacchante, who lies at the centre of the composition in a dreamy and relaxed state following her intoxication and ecstasy, is mesmerising. This early painting by Courbet masterfully captures her corporality, the delicate hue of her rosy skin as it reflects the light, the fine hair on the curved mons pubis. A Venus by Correggio, which he had seen at the Louvre, served as a model. And yet Courbet presents her so much more realistically, turning her into a woman of flesh and blood and making her appear almost physically tangible. In doing so he proved himself to be a master of realist art, and as such he would go on to leave his imprint on his time.
Gustave Courbet was born in Ornans in 1819, he died in La-Tour-de-Peilz in 1877.