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The Cover
February 25, 2004

Roe Deer at a Stream

Author Affiliations

The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate, MD, Senior Contributing Editor.

JAMA. 2004;291(8):917. doi:10.1001/jama.291.8.917

To Gustave Courbet (1819-1877), the consummate French Realist painter, reality consisted exclusively of things that could be seen, touched, or handled. As he explained, he could never paint a picture of an angel, for he had never seen an angel. Nor did he expect to see one, ever. Moreover, Courbet considered the entire fields of history and mythology unsuitable as sources for modern painting; either the events and personages were no longer present to the artist's eyes, or they had never existed. In each case, the subject was neither visible nor touchable; any image would be a falsehood. He likewise dismissed the works of the Romantic poets, no matter how beautiful or inspiring their words might be.

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