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Gustave Courbet was an avowed realist, painting mainly nudes, portraits and landscapes. An enthusiastic sportsman, he began to specialize in forest and hunting scenes during the late 1850s. Deer in the Forest, displays the forthrightness typical of Courbet's mature style.

This painting once belonged to James J. Hill (1838-1916), the Minnesota railroad magnate whose collection of European paintings forms the basis of the Institute's nineteenth-century holdings.

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