The Peasants of Flagey, Gustave Courbet, 1850-55, oil on canvas, Musée des Beaux-Arts et d'Archéologie, Besançon
The final Courbet painting in this context is the Peasants of Flagey returning from the fair. The picture is less crowded than the burial at Ornans and certainly more crowded than the Stonebreakers. Here, a group of peasants returns from a fair, as the title of the painting suggests. The fair was a business event of rural life, so the people involved return to their home after having sold their products and perhaps bought other things themselves. The thin oxen in front of the peasants might symbolize poverty, or may be the result of an economic deal .However the most important thing about this painting is that this is a representation of the third class in rural France. After the exhausted workers and the indifferent bourgeoisie, Courbet depicts the peasants, those people who have been lucky enough to own some estates and be able to make a living out of them. This painting therefore completes a trilogy that aims at representing the whole of rural life from a social, critical and even political point of view.