Courbet: The Ruse


Gustave Courbet (1819-1877): The Ruse, Roe Deer Hunting Episode, Franche-Comté


Oil on canvas | 97 x 130 cm | 1866

It was quite typical of Courbet to focus on a hunting motif like this in a large format. The picture has a distinctive dramatic quality, inherent in the way the leaping deer are fixed and rigid, while the static natural surroundings seem to be in motion. Courbet produced this effect by painting the animals in great detail with smooth surfaces, and in contrast using a more expressive palette knife technique to render the carpet of snow in the undergrowth. The white paint is spread over the dark landscape with the palette knife and creates a very subtle, intimate picture of the surface of the snow-cover.

The painting is an expression of Courbet’s insistence on a subjective realism which, thanks to the painting method, creates an intimacy between the observer and the picture.


Courbet prepared the ground so that everyday events could be rendered in large formats in painting. He made his mark as a modernist avant-garde artist, among other ways, by building a Pavillon du RĂ©alisme (Pavilion of Realism) to exhibit his own works in connection with the World Exhibitions in Paris in 1855 and 1867. Courbet’s uncompromising attitude in his life and work has been important to subsequent generations of artists.

Motifs: Self-portraits, landscapes, hunting scenes, still lifes, pictures of nude women and everyday scenes in monumental format.


Read more about Courbet at the MusĂ©e d’Orsay’s website.

Courbet Vildsporet
Den franske samling, French Collection