Gustave Courbet (French, 1819-1877)
Property of an Important Private European Collector
Gustave Courbet (French, 1819-1877)

Grands Chênes, bords de l’eau, Port-Berteau

Gustave Courbet (French, 1819-1877)
Grands Chênes, bords de l’eau, Port-Berteau
signed and dated '..62/ Gustave Courbet.' (lower left)
oil on canvas
26 ¾ x 36 3/8 in. (68 x 92.4 cm.)
Collection Mazaroz-Ribalier, Paris.
Their sale; Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 13-14 May 1890, lot 24.
Acquired at the above by Galerie Durand-Ruel.
Mrs Michael Gavin, USA, 1919.
Anonymous sale; Sotheby's, London, 20 November 1999, lot 75.
with Richard Green and Stoppenbach & Delestre, London.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
R. Fernier, La vie et l'oeuvre de Gustave Courbet, catalogue raisonné, Lausanne and Paris, 1977, vol. I, p. 186, no. 318 (illustrated).
P. Courthion, L’Opera completa di Gustave Courbet, Milan, 1985, no. 307 (illustrated).
Gustave Courbet e il suo tempo, Verona, 2008, pp. 212-213, no. 7 (illustrated p. 17).
Saintes, Explication des ouvrages de peinture et de sculpture exposés dans les salles de la Mairie de Saintes au profit des pauvres, 1863, no. 110.
Paris, Rond-Point de l'Alma, Exposition des oeuvres de M.G. Courbet, 1867, no. 122.
Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel, Les artistes Franc-Comtois-Rétrospective de Courbet, organised by L'Union Comtoise des Arts-Décoratifs 1897, no. 172, as: `Paysanne gardant des vaches'.
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Loan Exhibition of the Works of Gustave Courbet, 7 April-18 May 1919, no. 12, as: `Environs d'Ornans'.
New York, Mary Harriman Gallery, Courbet and Delacroix, 7-25 November 1933, no. 9.
Lausanne, Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts de Lausanne, Courbet, Artiste et promoteur de son oeuvre, 21 November 1998 - 21 February 1999 (the exhibition later travelled to Stockholm, Nationalmuseum Stockholm, 25 march-30 May 1999), p. 135, no. 21 (illustrated no. 126).
Brescia, Museo di Santa Giulia, Turner e gli Impressionisti, 28 October 2006 - 25 March 2007, no. 108.


On 13 July 1862 the art critic Jules Castagnary wrote about the present lot in the Corrier du dimanche,: `C’est à vrai dire un pays de juste milieu, aussi éloigné de la symétrie que du désordres, pittoresque toutefois entre ces deux etrêmes, mais d’ un pittoresque aimable, facile et sans prétention…Le ciel est de ce bleu lacté qui signale le voisinage de l’Ocean…
It was through Castagnary that Courbet met Etienne Baudry. This proved to be a crucial introduction as Baudry invited Courbet to stay at the Chateau de Rochemont near Saintes in 1862. From June 1862 to May 1863 he remained in Saintonge. His stay in the region can be considered pivotal as it marked an evolution in his oeuvre.
Courbet was primarily a landscape painter; however his aim was not to convey a sense of the picturesque, but rather to emphasize the materiality and density of his subject. As Laurence des Cars writes: 'His entire approach as a landscape painter aimed to make the reality of a site his own through a feeling of closeness to the subject; it is without equivalent in French painting of the time. In this revolution of the gaze, the technical principles that underlie composition, the use of colour, and the density of paint were turned upside down in order to convey the structure and essence of his subjects, beyond their appearance.' (Exh. cat., Gustave Courbet, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2008, p. 227).
Courbet viewed a landscape as a self-contained, living entity, which an artist had to know intimately to understand -- a fact taken to its extreme in his inclusion of anthropomorphic motifs in his later works in this genre. Here the two beech trees appear as two giants stepping out from the edge of the forest: the off-vertical axis of the trunks, and their angle compared to the roots create a clear sense of a human gait. The trunks become torsos, the roots feet, and the branches arms.
The bright palette of the present lot is a reflection of the artist’s state of mind at the time of its execution. Courbet had fallen in love with Laure Borreau, a local woman (fig. 1 ).
As in so many of Courbet's landscapes, the artist has packed his composition with real visual elements, but created an overall image which conveys a vision based on his strong roots to his region.

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