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    Sale 7438

    19th Century European Art

    23 January 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 40

    Gustave Courbet (French, 1819-1877)

    Les Gorges de Saillon

    Price Realised  

    Gustave Courbet (French, 1819-1877)
    Les Gorges de Saillon
    signed and dated '75/G.Courbet' (lower left)
    oil on canvas
    16½ x 13 in. (42 x 33 cm.)
    Painted in 1875.


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    Sarah Faunce compares the present work to Paysage fantastique aux roches anthromorphes (exh. cat. Courbet, Paris, Grand Palais, 1977-1978, no. 81), which features a similar construct of ladders set against the rock-face (see fig. 1). Most significantly, an almost identical human facial profile is created out of the boulder in the lower centre of the composition. This is not only a humoristic device which can be traced in the history of art back to Giuseppe Arcimboldo, but also reinforces Courbet's idea of his native land as being a living, breathing entity.

    Typical of Courbet is the way in which the waterfall and rocks fill the entire picture plane, unframed by trees or sky. The subject is presented starkly as a single mass of matter, confronting the viewer, yet in this instance also drawing him in closer by inviting him to follow the ladder to hidden points above.

    The present work will be included by Jean-Jacques Fernier in his supplement to the catalogue raisonné on the artist as "Courbet et collaboration", on the basis that in his opinion Cherubino Pata may have assisted the artist in its creation.

    Sarah Faunce has authenticated this work on the basis of a photograph.

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