This lucidly written monograph from noted art historian, Segolene Le Men provides a new understanding of how Courbet's life and and mileau shaped his vast ouevre. Organized by chronologically and thematically - the five chapters correspond to the successive phases of Courbet's career. With 300 stunning color illustrations including all of Courbet's most important paintings and many fine examples of his draftsmanship, this is the definitive study of a painter whose spirited pursuit of an independent aesthetic path has led many critics to call him 'the first modern artist'. When Courbet started his career in the late 1840s, French painting was dominated by neoclassicism (as typified by Ingres) and romanticism (exemplified by Delacroix). Rejecting the historical and literary subjects of the prevailing styles as too remote from actual experience, Courbet instead depicted scenes from everyday life, particularly almost the peasants and the working class, with a naturalism then considered shocking.