Gustave Courbet (Ornans 1819-1877 La Tour-de-Peilz)
Gustave Courbet (Ornans 1819-1877 La Tour-de-Peilz)

Le Miroir de Scey-en-Varais

Gustave Courbet (Ornans 1819-1877 La Tour-de-Peilz)
Le Miroir de Scey-en-Varais
signed 'G. Courbet' (lower left)
oil on canvas
53½ x 43¾ in. (135.8 x 111.2 cm.)
Painted 1864-1868.
Dr. Jules Lequime collection; sale, Galerie de Congrès, Brussels, 4-5 April 1892, lot 19.
Paul von Shabach, Berlin.
with Knoedler, New York.
Anonymous sale; Sotheby's, New York, 10 March 1971, lot 30.
P. Miquel, Le paysage français de XIXe siècle, Maurs-la-Jolie, 1975, III, p. 738.
R. Fernier, Courbet, 1819-1877, catalogue raisonné, Paris, 1977, II, pp. 154-5, no. 826.
Syracuse, Museum of Art, Old Masters, February-March 1952, no. 12.
West Palm Beach, Norton Gallery, David to Cézanne, 4 February-1 March 1953, no. 9; also Coral Gables, Lowe Gallery, 15 March-5 April 1953.

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Alexandra Nicholls
Alexandra Nicholls

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Lot Essay

The present painting is the leading image of a small group of works with the specific motif of the Miroir de Scey. This is the local name of a stretch of the river Loue just beyond Ornans, where the river's quick pace is temporarily interrupted by its formation into a quiet smooth surface that reflects the light. The interest of the site was augmented for local visitors by the presence of a ruined medieval tower on the hill above the river. This painting is the largest of the works by Courbet focusing on this site, and the one which encompasses all of its features.

In the foreground, Courbet introduces the image of a local man calmly poling a boat with a seated woman in it, providing a rare element of pastoral romance while at the same time emphasizing the notable characteristic of the pool/mirror that is his subject. The quality of the paint handling is high, and the work should be dated to the mid-1860s rather than 1872 as was previously supposed.

We are grateful to Sarah Faunce for confirming the authenticity of this work and preparing the catalogue entry. The work will be included in her forthcoming catalogue raisonné of Courbet's paintings.

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