The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate,
MD, Senior Contributing Editor.
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
Southgate MT. Roe Deer at a Stream. JAMA. 2004;291(8):917. doi:10.1001/jama.291.8.917