Painting the Present as History: Gustave Courbet's ‘Burial at Ornans’ and the Revolution of 1848

Sonia Fleury : History of Art/History

Mentor: Professor Darcy Grigsby, History of Art

Sonia Fleury’s project will primarily address notions of history and its construction in art and contemporary cultural media--newspapers, magazines, and political/popular prints--during the 1848 revolution in France. Receiving special attention will be the artwork of the 19th century realist painter Gustave Courbet, whose Burial at Ornans challenged traditional notions of history painting in its depiction of provincial bourgeois at a funeral. Does Courbet’s assertion that history painting is by its very nature contemporary parallel broader shifts in conceptions of history during this radical revolutionary moment, whereby history was seen as residing in the present? Sonia will travel to France to visit archives in Paris; to the Musée de l’Image in Epinal; and to Montpellier, where the largest retrospective exhibit of Courbet’s work in thirty years is currently displayed.