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Gustave Courbet

The Wounded Man

Between 1844 and 1854

Transform rather than liquidate

Paul Gauguin

L'Arlesienne , 1889

This Wounded Man by Gustave Courbet, like a heartbroken duelist, lies at the foot of a tree as if waiting for death. In any case, this is the interpretation suggested by the sword leaning against the trunk, whose shiny pommel catches our eye. However, modern radiography techniques have made it possible to trace the genesis of this painting, and to illuminate this image in a new light.


Indeed, the X-rays revealed three different versions of the painting, the first two being concealed under the final coat of paint. The first consisted of a simple portrait by Courbet of his mistress Virginie Binet. In the second, the painter had added a

What we can take away:

Our projects are born, live – more or less long – and die when we believe that the evolution of the context has made them obsolete. We then abandon them and forget them in the archives of our memory. But rather than burying these ideas, it is sometimes possible to make them evolve, to adjust them over time and the changes that are necessary, to capitalize on past achievements while integrating the need for renewal.

self-portrait, representing himself dozing next to the young woman in a lovers' siesta. Finally, ten years later, when

his beloved left him-

he erased his image

of the painting, reposition-

born the body of man-

me, added the sword and

painted a stain of

blood at the site

from the heart. Thereby  does he have

represented symboli-

only  his pain

abandoned lover.

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