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

Le Parc de Rochemont

Gustave Courbet (French, 1819-1877)
Le Parc de Rochemont
signed and dated 'Gustave Courbet 62' (lower right)
oil on canvas
33 ½ x 43 in. (85 x 109 cm.)
Etienne Baudry (from 1862-3 to at least 1882).
Private Collection, The Netherlands.
Acquired from the above by a private collector, circa 1920.
And thence by descent.
Their sale; Sotheby's, London, 18 November 2003, lot 318.
E. Chéron, Album photographique de l'exposition Courbet, Ecole Nationale des Beaux Arts, Paris, 1882 (illustrated).
C. Léger, Courbet, Paris, 1929, p. 93.
Bulletin de la Société des amis de Gustave Courbet, Paris & Ornans, 1974, no. 52 (illustrated on the cover).
R. Fernier, La Vie et l'oeuvre de Gustave Courbet: Catalogue raisonné, Paris, 1977, vol. I, p. 185, no. 310, as: Le Parc de Rochemont - promenade à âne (illustrated).
Courbet und Deutschland,, Hamburg and Frankfurt, 1978-79, p. 551, mentioned; no. 474/14, p. 552 (pictured hanging in the 1882 exhibition).
P. Courthion, L'opera completa di Courbet, Milan, 1985, p. 90, no. 301 (illustrated).
R. Bonniot, Gustave Courbet en Saintonge, Semussac, 1986, p. 124.
Saintes, Hôtel de Ville, Exposition de peinture et de Sculpture exposés dans le salles de la Mairie au profit des pauvres, January 1863, no.104, as Bois de Rochemont).
Paris, Rond-Point du Pont de l'Alma, Exposition des oeuvres de M. G. Courbet, 1867, no. 34, as: 'Le Parc de M. Etienne Baudry à Rochemont, près Saintes, Charente-Inférieur' (dated 1863).
Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel, Exposition rétrospective de tableaux & dessins des maitres modernes, 1878, no. 24.
Paris, Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts, Exposition Gustave Courbet, 1882, no. 77 (illustrated in Chéron's Album).
Basel, Fondation Beyeler, Gustave Courbet, 7 September 2014 – 18 January 2015, p. 79.
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Lot Essay

Gustave Courbet stayed with Etienne Baudry, the first owner of the present painting, from May to September 1862, during the first part of his year-long stay in the Saintonge region of western France. An eccentric landowner, Baudry had been introduced to Courbet by the artist's friend and champion, the famous art critic Jules-Antoine Castagnary. Baudry's book, Le Camp des Bourgeois, was illustrated by Courbet in 1868, and the two men remained firm friends until the end of Courbet's life. In a letter of June 1862 to his friend Jules Troubat, Courbet wrote glowingly of his sojourn: "I am slaving away...painting nude women and landscapes in the prettiest countryside you have ever seen, and in a magnificent castle where I live alone except for a man and his mistress." (Petra ten-Doesschate Chu, ed., Letters of Gustave Courbet).
Courbet had a profound affection for the countryside, and a strong sense of his own family history, which was deeply rooted in a sense of rural tradition. In this painting, which shows a rider taking a gentle stroll through the parkland at Rochemont, the Baudry family estate, Courbet paints an unusually atmospheric scene: the emphasis is not only, like in many of his landscapes, on the physicality of trees or rocks, but also on the soft, dappled light, which draws the viewer into the painting, and brings it close to the dreamier landscapes of Courbet's contemporary, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (fig. 1). Nature here is a revitalising refuge, and the painting conveys the sense of ease and comfort that Courbet felt during his long stay at Rochemont (fig. 2).
Baudry records (quoted in Bonniot, op. cit.) that the painting was inspired by a lunch party that he hosted in honour of a Parisian theatre troupe. The occasion culminated in a donkey ride, during which Courbet was thrown from his mount - a spritely donkey named Balthasar.

The authenticity of the present work has been confirmed by Jean-Jacques Fernier (copy of the certificate dated 15 September 2003) and by Sarah Faunce (copy of a letter dated 13 August 2003).

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