Courbet’s Landscape with Anthropomorphic Rocks (1873)
It does not take a genius to recognize that Courbet has turned the rock at left into a human face with water sprouting from the mouth. A rock facing it, just to right of the center, only partly lit, is also a face. The presence of these heads is so obvious that they are acknowledged in the title that the art world has given the painting. Does this not mean, however, that Courbet might have done something similar but less obviously in other landscapes as well? It certainly suggests that his art does not copy nature as was long believed by those who called him a Realist. Indeed, like all great masters before him regardless of their style, Courbet portrays himself by fusing the exterior scene with the inner workings of his mind.
More Works by Courbet
See how Manet's identification with Courbet is recognized by a later artist who then used it in his portrait of yet another artist.
This painting like many of Courbet's images of caves and the sources of rivers consists of a dark hole with rock swirling around it in the form of an eye.
Original Publication Date on EPPH: 11 May 2010. © Simon Abrahams. Articles on this site are the copyright of Simon Abrahams. To use copyrighted material in print or other media for purposes beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. Websites may link to this page without permission (please do) but may not reproduce the material on their own site without crediting Simon Abrahams and EPPH.