The Stonebreakers

Artist: Gustave Courbet
Artist's Lifespan: 1819-1877
Title: The Stonebreakers
Date: 1849

Location of Origin: France
Medium: Oil on canvas
Original Size: 5 ft 3 in x 8 ft 6 in
Style: Realism (Social Realism)
Genre: Class--lower

Commentary: Painting destroyed in World War II. As the artistıs friend, socialist Pierre Proudhon, wrote of first the older and then the younger stonebreaker: ³His motionless face is heartbreakingly melancholy. His stiff arms rise and fall with the regularity of a lever. Here indeed is the mechanical or mechanized man in the state of ruin to which our splendid civilization and our incomparable industry have reduced him... This modern servitude devours the generations in their youth: here is the proletariat.² (Quoted in Linda Nochlin, ed., Realism and Tradition in Art, Prentice-Hall, 1966, p. 52)