GUSTAVE COURBET (ORNANS 1819-1877 LA TOUR-DE-PEILZ)
GUSTAVE COURBET (ORNANS 1819-1877 LA TOUR-DE-PEILZ)
GUSTAVE COURBET (ORNANS 1819-1877 LA TOUR-DE-PEILZ)
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This lot is offered without reserve.
GUSTAVE COURBET (ORNANS 1819-1877 LA TOUR-DE-PEILZ)

Le Guitarrero

Details
GUSTAVE COURBET (ORNANS 1819-1877 LA TOUR-DE-PEILZ)
Le Guitarrero
signed and dated 'Gustave Courbet./1844.' (lower right)
oil on canvas
22 1/8 x 16 5/8 in. (56.2 x 42.2 cm.)
Provenance
Henri de Saint D.
His sale; Café de Belle-vue, Grand Place, Lille, 8-9 March 1878, lot 25, as Le troubadour préludant.
Binand, by 1882.
Jean-Baptiste Faure, Paris, by 1896.
with Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, probably acquired directly from the above.
Prince de Wagram, before 1920.
Dikran Khan Kélékian (1867-1951), Paris and New York.
His sale; American Art Galleries, New York, 30-31 January 1922, lot 133.
Pendegrast, acquired at the above sale.
with Galerie Barbazanges, Paris.
with Fearon Galleries, New York, 1924.
with M. Knoedler and Co., New York, by 1929.
Dikran Khan Kélékian (1867-1951), Paris and New York, reacquired before 1933.
His sale; Rains Galleries, New York, 18 January, 1935, lot 63.
Edith Malvina Wetmore (1870-1966), Newport and New York, acquired at the above sale, until at least 1949.
Betty Parker Hitesman (1920-1994), Mrs. Walter Wood Hitesman, Jr., Bedford, NY, by 1959, until 1988.
with Richard L. Feigen and Co., New York, circa 1990.
Barbara and Thomas Lee, New York, by 1993.
Literature
A. Estignard, Courbet, sa vie et ses œuvres, Besançon, 1896, p. 150.
G. Crauk, Soixante ans dans les ateliers des artistes, Dubosc, mode'le, Paris, 1900, p. 152.
G. Riat, Gustave Courbet, Peintre, Paris, 1906, p. 36.
L. Bénédite, Courbet, 1911, pp. 19-20, pl. II, illustrated.
Les peintres illustres no. 34, Courbet, Paris, 1913, p. 30.
T. Duret, Courbet, Paris, 1918, pp. 10-11, pl. III, illustrated.
Collection Kélékian: Tableaux de l'école française moderne, Paris, London and Cairo, 1920 pl. 15, illustrated.
A. Fontainas, Courbet-Art et Esthétique, Paris, 1921, pp. 4-5.
G. de Chirico, Gustave Courbet, with 33 Reproductions in Phototype, Rome, 1926, illustrated, n.p.
C. Léger, Courbet, Paris, 1929, p. 32.
P. Courthion, Courbet, Paris, 1931, pl. V, illustrated.
J. Baillods, Courbet vivant, Neuchâtel and Paris, 1940, pp. 22-23.
A. Ferran, Le Salon de 1845 de Ch. Baudelaire, Toulouse, 1933, p. 20, under footnote 39.
R. Huygue et al., Courbet l'Atelier du peintre, Allégorie du peintre, 1855, Paris, 1944, p. 1.
C. Léger, Courbet et son temps, lettres et documents ine´dits, Paris, 1948, pp. 26-27.
G. Mack, Gustave Courbet, New York, 1951, pp. 36-37, 43.
M. Zahar, Courbet, Geneva, 1952, p. 29.
Bulletin des Amis de Gustave Courbet, Ornans, no. 25, 1960, pp. 8-9, no. 5, illustrated.
D. Cooper, ‘Courbet in Philadelphia and Boston’, Burlington Magazine, June 1960, p. 245.
A. Fermigier, Courbet, Étude biographique et critique, Geneva, 1971, p. 19.
T. J. Clark, Image of the People: Gustave Courbet and the 1848 Revolution, Princeton, 1973, pp. 39-40.
M.-T. Lemoyne de Forges, Autoportraits de Courbet, exh. cat., Paris, 1973, pp. 28-30, no. 33, illustrated.
L. Nochlin, Gustave Courbet, A Study of Style and Society, New York, 1976, PhD diss., originally submitted 1963, pp. 29-32, fig. 26, illustrated.
P. Courthion, Tout l'oeuvre peint de Courbet, Paris, 1987, pp. 73-74, no. 46, illustrated.
R. Fernier, La vie et l'œuvre de Gustave Courbet, catalogue raisonné, Lausanne et Paris, 1977, vol. I, pp. 32-33, no. 52, illustrated.
A. Callen, Courbet, London, 1980, p. 43, under no. 10, as The Guitarist.
Gustave Courbet (1819-1877), exh. cat., Paris and London, 1977-1978, pp. 24-25, 86, under no. 9, illustrated.
H.-D. Genscher et al., Courbet und Deutschland, exh. cat., Hamburg and Frankfurt am Main, 1978-1979, p. 5, illustrated, as Der Gitarrist.
P. ten Doesschate Chu, Letters of Gustave Courbet, Chicago, 1992, pp. 53, 56.
S. Faunce, Courbet, New York, 1993, p. 12, illustrated.
P. Georgel, Courbet, Le poe'me de la nature, Paris, 1995, p. 19. illustrated.
J. Zutter and P. ten-Doesschate Chu, Courbet, Artiste et promoteur de son œuvre, exh. cat., Lausanne and Stockholm, 1998-1999, p. 54.
J. H. Rubin, Courbet, Paris, 2003, p. 26, pl. 17, illustrated.
V. Bajou, Courbet, 2003, pp. 46-47 illustrated.
F. Masanès, Gustave Courbet, The Last of the Romantics, Cologne, 2006, p. 23, illustrated, as Young Man in a Landscape or The Guitarrero.
S. Le Men, Courbet, Paris, 2007, p. 70.
Exhibited
Paris, Salon, 1845, p. 50, no. 379, as Guittarero, jeune homme dans un paysage.
Paris, École des beaux-arts, Exposition des œuvres de Gustave Courbet, May 1882, no. 155, as Le Guittarero, Jeune homme dans un paysage.
Brooklyn, The Brooklyn Museum, Private Collection of Dikran Kélékian, February-March 1921, also San Francisco, The California Palace of the Legion of Honor, 1921, no cat.
Brooklyn Museum, Paintings by Modern French Masters, Representing the Post Impressionists and Their Predecessors, New York, April 1921, no. 48, as The Guitar Player.
New York, Fearon Galleries, Inc., Loan Exhibition of Works by Gustave Courbet, 12-26 April 1924, no. 3.
Cleveland, The Cleveland Museum of Art, French Art Since 1800, November 1929, no cat.
New York, Marie Harriman Gallery, Courbet and Delacroix, 7-25 November 1933, no. 1.
San Francisco, The California Palace of the Legion of Honor, Exhibition of French Painting from the Fifteenth Century to the Present Day, 8 June-8 July 1934, p. 47, no. 82, as The Guitar Player.
Providence, The Rhode Island School of Design, on long-term loan after 1935.
New York, M. Knoedler and Co., Figure Pieces, 29 March-10 April 1937, no. 9, illustrated.
Baltimore, The Baltimore Museum of Art, An Exhibition of Paintings by Courbet, 3-29 May 1938, no. 1.
New York, Wildenstein and Co., A Loan Exhibition of Gustave Courbet for the Benefit of American Aid to France and the Goddard Neighborhood Center, 2 December 1948-8 January 1949, pp. 14, 41, no. 1, illustrated.
Fort Worth, The Fort Worth Art Association, Homer, Eakins, Ryder, Inness and their French Contemporaries, A Loan Exhibition of Famous Paintings from Foremost American Museums and Collectors, Commemorating City of Forth Worth Centennial, 1849-1949, 11 March- 15 April 1949, pp. 14-15, no. 6.
Philadelphia, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Gustave Courbet 1819-1877, 17 December 1959-14 February 1960, also Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, 26 February-14 April 1960, n.p., no. 5, illustrated.
New York, Wildenstein and Co., Romantics and Realists, A Loan Exhibition for the Benefit of the Citizens' Committee for Children of New York, Inc., 7 April-7 May 1966, no. 19, illustrated, as The Guitar Player.
New York, Brooklyn Museum, Courbet Reconsidered, 4 November 1988-16 January 1989, also Minneapolis, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 18-30 April 1989, pp. 83, 91, 94, no. 3, illustrated, as The Guitar Player.
Boston, The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Prized Possessions, European Paintings from Private Collections of Friends of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 17 June-16 August 1992, pp. 79, 139-140, no. 32, pl. 105, illustrated, as The Guitar Player.
Paris, Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, Gustave Courbet, 13 October 2007-28 January 2008, also New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 27 February-18 May 2008, and Montpellier, Musée Fabre, 14 June-28 September 2008, pp. 96, 98-99, no. 3, illustrated, as The Guitar Player.
Special notice
This lot is offered without reserve.

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Lot Essay


Gustave Courbet had his first Salon acceptance in 1844 with Portrait of the Artist (Courbet with a Black Dog), (Paris, Petit Palais), in which he is seated in his native landscape around Ornans with his proud new possession, a purebred English spaniel (fig. 1). In this first representation, the artist sought to establish himself as a member of the Parisian Bohemian circle. The success of this first endeavor encouraged further efforts to unite man with nature, and Le Guitarrero was Courbet’s second successful submission to the Salon and the only one of five entries by the artist to have been accepted in 1845.

Although the present work is called a self-portrait by Theophile Silvestre and was accepted as such by subsequent critics, Marie-Therèse Forges (op. cit., p. 30) rejected this identification and Helène Toussaint has argued that the sitter was actually the violinist Alphonse Promayet, Courbet’s boyhood friend who accompanied him to Paris (exh. cat., Paris, Grand Palais, loc. cit.). Toussaint has proposed that because of the identical dimensions of Le Guitarrero and Le Sculpteur, (fig. 2) and the latter was always considered the self-portrait, these two paintings were conceived as pendants demonstrating an avowal of the close friendship between the two sitters.

Using portraits of friends and family in ways that transcend portraiture is an important feature of Courbet’s best-known and most important paintings, from After Dinner at Ornans of 1850, The Meeting of 1854 and The Painter’s Studio of 1855. In After Dinner at Ornans, the first full statement of the artist’s maturity, the figure playing the violin for the audience of three men around the table is that of Promayet, who came from a musical family in Ornans and was at this time trying to make a career as a violinist in Paris. The friendship between the musician and the artist was based not only on a shared childhood experience, but also on their common devotion to a life dedicated to the arts. Such was Courbet’s deep respect for Promayet that he placed the violinist among the group of those occupying the right-hand side of the pictorial space in The Painter’s Studio (Musée d’Orsay, Paris, fig. 3). To Courbet, this is the group representing those to whom art is of primary significance and who supported Courbet’s own concept of the role of art. Using the robe-clad portrait of Promayet (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, fig. 4), the artist situated the figure among a group that included his patron Alfred Bruyas, the social philosopher Prudhon, and Courbet’s old friend, the poet Max Buchon. In the present work, Promayet is painted not in his own persona but in that of a figure with beautifully detailed costume accessories in the late medieval style and playing a contemporary guitar that gives the image a Spanish flavor that is also stressed in Courbet’s own title for the painting, Le Guitarrero.

Both Le Guitarrero and its companion piece show the influence at this formative period of the artist’s development of the Style Troubadour, an aspect of Romantic painting which combined the scale and precision of genre painting with subjects drawn from a Gothic past that could only be imagined in terms of costume and architectural and decorative detail. This essentially literary style was past its height by the time Courbet arrived in Paris in late 1839, but there were still paintings to be seen in the Salons, and even more imagery of this kind in popular illustration. It was a style that Courbet explored in a small group of works of around 1843-1845 as he was emerging from his earliest years of copying Old Masters, working from the live model and experimenting with his own compositions. It is interesting to note in this connection that even The Man Made Mad by Fear of 1844 (National Gallery, Oslo), representing such an extreme state of emotion, is depicted in the archaic costume of the Style Troubadour. Evidently, Courbet found something of use to his own contradictory nature in the curious combination of clear-cut technical realism and the fanciful subject matters of these images.

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