The French Painter Gustave Courbet rocked the art world in the 19th century. Through his brush, reality entered painting: Realism was born.
With the aim of tracing his footsteps in this country, the MNAC
is exhibiting a selection of his most outstanding works, most of which are being shown in Spain for the first time. The exhibition reveals Courbets influence on Catalan painting in the period, most of all through the work of Ramon Martí Alsina, the man responsible for the renewal of painting and who introduced Realism to the Spanish art scene.
It is an ambitious exhibition, produced by the MNAC, that invites the public to gain greater in-depth knowledge of Realism and at the same time discover its precedents and its legacy, in a show that deliberately goes beyond the temporal limits of this movement: from the Spanish Golden Age, with paintings by Murillo, Ribera and Velázquez, to contemporary art, through the work of Antoni Tàpies, one of the most universal Catalan artists.
The MNAC seeks to fulfill two objectives with the exhibition Realism: The Mark of Courbet. One is to present some of Gustave Courbet’s most important works in Spain for the first time and the other is to highlight the contribution made by Ramón Martí I Alsina to the development of Catalan painting in the second half of the 19th century and his central role in the introduction of the Realist movement to the Spanish art scene. The renewal undertaken by Ramón Martí I Alsina and other Catalan painters would have been impossible without direct contact with Courbet’s works and the stimulating influence this familiarity exerted. This is why this exhibition would be incomplete without the presence highly representative selection of work by the French painter to place the Catalan Realist movement in context and, above all, to illustrate the fertile results of Courbet’s far-reaching influence in the sphere of Catalan painting.
At the same time, the exhibition includes a hand-picked selection of 18th-century paintings and prints, intended to illustrate the importance of the great Baroque masters in Realist painting in the 19th century.
In addition, the last part contains a selection of works by Antoni Tapies in order to show the mark left by Realism on one of the most international of today´s Catalan artists.
The exhibition consists of about 80 works, including paintings, drawings, prints, and photographs, belonging to different public and private collections in Europe and America, such as the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, the Musée Fabre in Montpellier, the Musée des Beauz-Arts et d’Archéologie in Besancon, the National Gallery in London, the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Broadly speaking, the exhibition uses examples of the highest quality to make a tour of the subjects covered by painters of the time, such as portrait, self-portrait, the nude and genre scenes.