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Henri Rochefort, 1874

Gustave Courbet
French, 1819-1877
Oil on canvas
25-1/2 x 21-1/4 in. (64.8 x 54 cm)
The Norton Simon Foundation
© The Norton Simon Foundation

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Gustave Courbet painted this portrait of his friend, and radical Republican, Henri Rochefort while he was in exile in Switzerland. Rochefort was a journalist, editor and political rabblerouser. His adamant public support of the failed Commune in Paris ultimately landed him in a French penal colony in New Caledonia, an island in the south Pacific. In a daring nighttime escape, Rochefort made his way back to the continent after traveling through Australia, the United States and England. Although the portrait is rather somber, Courbet nevertheless captures the distinctive jaw, goatee and unruly hair that so often served as fodder for the caricaturists of the time.

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