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Gustave Courbet, 'In the Forest', 1859

Key facts
Full title In the Forest
Artist Gustave Courbet
Artist dates 1819 - 1877
Date made 1859
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 80 × 99.1 cm
Acquisition credit Sir Hugh Lane Bequest, 1917, The National Gallery, London. In partnership with Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin.
Inventory number NG3241
Location On loan: Long Loan to The Hugh Lane (2019 - 2031), Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane, Dublin, Ireland
Collection Main Collection
In the Forest
Gustave Courbet

A few rays of sunlight break through the canopy of this tranquil forest, reflecting off the surface of a small pool and the nearby trees. A hind is visible at the water’s edge, head bent down to drink, while a stag rests on the grass in the foreground.

Although he was regarded as an accomplished landscape painter in his lifetime, Courbet became better known for his figurative paintings – yet landscapes make up more than two-thirds of his body of work. His approach to landscape painting was incredibly modern. He moved away from the traditional use of landscapes as a backdrop for biblical, mythological or historical events, instead using them as an opportunity to depict a feeling of vitality, immediacy and freedom of expression. To achieve this effect he used a variety of tools to apply paint, from a palette knife to his own thumbs.

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