Lot and His Daughters, 1844 by Gustave Courbet

Shortly after his arrival in Paris, Courbet made a very important acquaintance, that of the genre-painter François Bonvin. From him he learnt the sacrosanct ritual of copying old masters in the Musée du Luxembourg and the Louvre. Following in the footsteps of Géricault, Chassériau and Eugene Delacroix, Courbet discovered the Venetian and Bolognese schools of Italian Renaissance painting, the northern Baroque of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and the works of Diego Velazquez, Zurbarán and Murillo.

The principal surviving records of this period are his copies of Guercino's Vision of St Jerome (1840) and Lot and his Daughters . Courbet destroyed most of his other early works, sparing only some portraits and his first big history paintings, in which he was clearly struggling with the heritage of Romanticism.