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The Most Arrogant Man in France:
Gustave Courbet and the Nineteenth-Century Media Culture
Petra ten-Doesschate Chu

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"In The Most Arrogant Man in France Petra Ten-Doesschate Chu takes up Courbet's relationship with the growing number of newspapers and journals of 19th-century France, and he shows how this clever artist made use of a very willing media to make his name a household word in France and elsewhere in Europe, and to increase the sales of his paintings...The best part of Ms. Chu's amply illustrated book deals with Courbet's strongest work. In his series of self-portraits...she traces Courbet's shedding of the Romantic conventions of his youth and his development (in his own words) into 'a man confident in his principles, a free man.'"--Stephen Goode, Washington Times

"Petra Chu, a renowned expert on Courbet and editor of the Letters of Gustave Courbet (1992), presents a fascinating portrait of the media-conscious young artist....Chu's well-illustrated book offers readers not only a deeper understanding of this extraordinarily versatile activist-artist but also of the complex social and economic milieus in which he worked."--Peter Skinner, ForeWord

"With this book, Chu adds to her reputation as a leading scholar of Courbet and of 19th-century French art in general...Well illustrated and a pleasure to read, Chu's book is sure to inspire further research on the role of the popular press in the development of modern art."--D.E. Gliem, Choice

"[Chu] seeks to replace the long-standing image of the artist as a heroic artiste engagé with a more complicated picture of the man and his art . . . Chu's book holds out the promise of a fascinating rereading of the artist and his work. . . . What we are left with, by the end of Chu's book, is a picture of Courbet as a cynical operator, ready to exploit the press and the burgeoning audience for provocative, antiestablishment art, and who pursues fame for fame's sake."--Aruna D'Souza, Art Bulletin

"[W]ell-researched, perceptive, and beautifully illustrated text. . . . Chu's book is an important new contribution to the field of nineteenth-century art. It will undoubtedly become a key text for scholars grappling with the mysteries and ambiguities at the heart of Courbet's work."--Gretchen Sinnett, CAA Reviews


"This important book will instantly claim a place among the standard works on Courbet. Petra Chu has done an admirable job of tying together art, literature, and history to put Courbet in context in a way that has not been done before. She reveals a Courbet who is ambitious to succeed and who realizes that the new media of nineteenth-century France can be harnessed to his ambition. With this book, Chu brings to fruition a lifetime of studying Courbet and nineteenth-century French art."--Patricia Mainardi, City University of New York

"Petra Chu has worked on Courbet throughout her long and productive career and this book is a capstone of her work, the product of considerable thought, insight, perception, and interpretation. Covering all phases of his evolution, from his earliest self-portraits to his late landscapes, she contextualizes Courbet in new ways and ties him to celebrity and media culture so that we can see how he thought as well as why he reacted in his work as he did. This is no small achievement."--Gabriel P. Weisberg, University of Minnesota

"The Most Arrogant Man in France is an original study of Courbet's entrepreneurial methods, and as such distinguishes itself from the rest of the voluminous recent writing on the artist. Petra Chu carefully sifts through Courbet's contacts with the press, newly investigates his patronage, and speculates about his appeal to the wider public. The book will interest not just art historians but also general readers since it dissects the intelligence and entrepreneurial flair of a canonical artistic personality who anticipates artists such as Dalí and Warhol."--Albert Boime, UCLA

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File created: 4/21/2017

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