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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 x 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 to Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane
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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