Gustave Courbet (French, 1819-1877)
Gustave Courbet (French, 1819-1877)

Les rochers de Bonnevaux

Gustave Courbet (French, 1819-1877)
Les rochers de Bonnevaux
signed 'G. Courbet' (lower right)
oil on canvas
24½ x 40¼ in. (62 x 102 cm.)
Painted in either 1866 or 1872.
Justin K. Thannhauser, New York.
Private collection, France.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Ornans, Musée Gustave Courbet, 2 June - 16 December 2007, L'apologie de la nature...ou l'exemple de Courbet.
Barcelona, Museu Diocesà de Barcelona, Courbet - entre natura
i cultura
, 3 June - 5 September 2010, no. 37.
Paris, Fondation Mona Bismarck, Gustave Courbet: L'amour de la nature, 4 March - 4 June 2011.

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Alexandra McMorrow
Alexandra McMorrow

Lot Essay

Dated by Robert Fernier to either 1866 or 1872, this large landscape is typical of those painted by Courbet in later life, around his native region of Framche Comté. These compositions are characterized by an imposing and central mass of rock, surrounded by signature elements which have come to define the Courbet landscape. These include the deer in the lower left of this composition and the waterfall in the centre; and the technique of closely framing his subject, and of flattening perspective, both of which serve to heighten the grandeur and simplicity of the limestone formations which dominate the painting. As Laurence des Cars writes: "From this point on [the mid 1860s] the painter had perfectly fixed a type of composition wherein the rocky element irrepressibly overruns the surface of the canvas, limiting and minimizing the opening to the sky, so important in the classical tradition. This strategy would figure in the paintings devoted to the cliffs at Étretat, and would allow Courbet to free himself from tradition when he dared to more tightly frame one of the most secret landscapes of his world, with the canvases of the Source of the Loue." (Exh. cat, Gustave Courbet, New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2008, pp. 262-263)

This painting has been authenticated by Robert Fernier in a letter dated 19 October 2005. He will include it in his forthcoming supplement to the Courbet catalogue raisonné.

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