Woman with a Cat, 1864
Oil on canvas
A champion of the Realist movement of the mid-nineteenth century, Courbet chose subjects from everyday life. His main purpose was to draw attention to the world around him, as opposed to the idyllic and romantic themes of earlier generations. To stress his new style, Courbet often attempted to shock his audiences, painting a number of works with erotic overtones that challenged the standards of decorum at that time. Here sensuality is implied by the combination of a playful cat and the coquettish glance of the woman in a morning cap. Equally bold is the artist's technique, consisting of rapid brushwork that was a major break from the refined style of the academic tradition and a forerunner of Impressionism.