Gustave Courbet was born in Ornans, in the Doubs region in France, on 10 June 1819.
A true art enthusiast, at the age of twelve he began his artistic training at the minor seminary before enrolling in a specialist fine arts class. A student of some promise, he nevertheless decided to move to Paris to study law. However, this plan never came to fruition thanks to his chance meeting with Nicolas-Auguste Hesse, a history painter, who encouraged him to embark on an artistic career. Courbet then became aware of his talent and decided to perfect his art at the Charles Suisse Academy, where he developed a brand new artistic movement, Realism. This new movement, of which After Dinner at Ornans was the first picture, rapidly earned him a certain notoriety. His artistic genius was awarded a second class medal, encouraging the painter to grasp the opportunity to turn artistic codes on their head. As committed to politics as to art, Courbet abandoned his brushes to become one of the elect of the Paris Commune in 1871. Accused of having toppled the Vendôme Column, he was forced to resign and rebuild it at his own expense while in exile in Switzerland.
Gustave Courbet died in Switzerland on 31 December 1877, without ever managing to pay off the debt of the Vendôme Column.