Gustave Courbet's work is dedicated to his grandfather, after the funeral of which, the artist dawns on the idea of capturing this event on canvas. Many of those present were eager to be in the picture. And so it happened. As the artist said afterwards, it was very difficult to place so many people in his small workshop. He was posed both by the vicar, who performed the ceremony, and the mayor of the city, present at the funeral, as well as ordinary people, singing the deceased. Many whom Courbet had forgotten to invite took offense at him, demanding their participation.
The gloomy atmosphere of the funeral is emphasized by both the grimaces on the faces of those present and the background of the sky. Many, unable to stand it, hid their faces under shawls, while others performed a ceremony with serene faces. Given that most of Courbet’s work has darkened over time, it can be assumed that the action takes place in broad daylight. Also, this conjecture seems fair, given the white clouds in the right edge of the picture.
On the left, we can see people in hats carrying a coffin. Their faces are lowered, which emphasizes the importance of the deceased during life. Sadness is also noticeable at guests of honor. For example, the mayor in his black cocked hat. He is near the funeral pit and holds out his hand. Next to him is, apparently, a close relative of Courbet. Crouching on one knee, he waits for the coffin to be lowered.
A cross with a crucified man is especially striking. At first, this is bewildering, because where does such a phenomenon come from among the French lands. And times, judging by the clothes of those present, are close to the 18th century. However, if you take a closer look, it becomes clear that this is a cross with a crucifix, which is held in the hand of a church minister. Then everything falls into place.
What Expanse Repin