Paysage avec un cheval mort (2nd half of the 1850s)

Courbet, Gustave (1819-1877)

Paysage avec un cheval mort (Landscape with a Dead Horse)
2nd half of the 1850s
Oil on canvas, 45 x 56 cm
Hermitage MuseumSaint Petersburg

Its subject marked by the influence of Romanticism is full of mystery. In the centre of the composition is a bright spot of a horse’s carcass lying on the side of the road. Beyond it is the figure of a man running with a burden in his hand into the depths of the forest thicket. What has happened – an accident or a crime – remains unclear. It has been suggested that the source of inspiration for the work may have been Charles Baudelaire‘s La Charogne (Carrion), from the collection of his poems, Les Fleurs du Mal. Courbet‘s daring depiction of a dead horse in the foreground manifests his conviction that art should reflect the truth of life in all its prosaic unattractiveness. (SHM)

See also:

• Baudelaire, Charles (1821-1867)