Class Year




Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)

Department or Program

Art & Art History

First Advisor

Ann Roberts

Second Advisor

Aurelia Campbell

Third Advisor

Dan LeMahieu


My thesis focuses on Gustave Courbet’s landscape painting The Valley of Les Puits-Noir from 1868. The purpose of my thesis is to extend the political reading that scholars have argued about his other paintings to The Valley of Les Puits-Noir. This reading can be applied to his entire body of landscapes in future studies. Courbet was opposed to Napoleon III and the Second Empire, an opposition he visibly communicated in his earlier genre paintings. Scholars have written about Courbet’s landscapes, and consider them neutral when compared to his earlier works. My research focuses on the political history during the period, on landscape paintings by contemporary Barbizon School artists, and on The Valley of Les Puits-Noir itself. I argue that this landscape embodies Courbet’s deep hatred of the Second Empire, especially the industrialization and modernization endeavors that expanded its influence into the countryside Courbet loved.

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