Courbet by James Rubin (Phaidon)
A basic text for the work of one of the most important realist painters. Rubin manages to discuss not only the artist and his work but also what gave rise to them. Courbet can not be seen outside the political, social and economic context of the 19th century and his paintings are clearly associated with the world in which he lived, whether this was his native Ornans and its inhabitants or the nude females of his later life. Rubin recognizes this close association throughout the book creating an interesting and higly informative biography of the artist.