Gustave Courbet was one of the greatest painters of the Realism trend in France, but the truth is that there are chapters of his biography that shows us that he was more than just a magnificent artist.
One of them was the events that took place during the phase of the so-called Paris Commune. An episode in which the French capital passed for a few days into the hands of a socialist government completely opposed to Napoleon III, the cause of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 and the subsequent Gallic defeat.
Young Communards in Courbet Prison
Well that Paris Commune had a team of 92 leaders running the city government, and one of those leaders was none other than Gustave Courbet. It is true that the artist has various paintings that show us his political ideals clearly inspired by social and left-wing thought, such as The Stonecutters. But he not only reflected that ideology in his works, but he was quite an activist.
And an activist with radical ideas, such as the one who proclaimed that the Vendome Column should be torn down, since it was a symbol of the Napoleonic imperial phase, which should not be honored in a republican nation like France.
However, the truth is that the utopia of the Paris Commune did not last long, specifically 72 days, since the army ended up besieging thecapital and finally reinstate the previous order. It was then that many of the community members who had participated were simply executed, some with death and others with prison.
In the case ofCourbet, the new government decided that he be imprisoned for about six months and also pay a heavy financial pen alty. And it was precisely during his time in captivity that he painted the illustration shown here ofYoung community members in prison. An image that he first painted in chalk and then published as we see it in the image
And as for theVendome Columnwhich had been removed at his command, it too was rebuilt in the year 1873, much of which the painter was forced to that he bear the cost of that reconstruction.
It was clear that the cost of that work was extremely large, so an agreement was reached that he would pay it in installments over more than 30 years. However, when Courbet was released from prison, he fled to Switzerland, where he ended up dying, an event that took place before he had to make the first installment payment.