Franche-Comté, is a French region brimming with sites of outstanding natural beauty. From waterfalls to thick forests, the region allowed for Courbet's endless exploration and discovery. The Jura mountains are a main feature stretching 360 kilometers along the Franco-Swiss border. The word, Jura, actually takes meaning from the Gaullish word for Forest.
Courbet knew this region all too well. Born to prosperous farming parents in the small town of Ornans in the Franche-Comté, Courbet's parents provided him with a good and thorough education but he showed less interest in scholarly studies. Soon after Courbet moved to Paris in 1839, he announced his decision to devote all of his time to becoming a painter.
Vue de Franche-Comté, later painted in 1873, is set next to a plain of running water. Courbet has colorfully painted a landscape consisting of grassy hills, a flowing stream and on the left two immense poplar trees which cut vertically into the sky. In Courbet's studio after the later 1850's, he prioritized landscape painting over history painting. He had of course painted landscapes before this time, but now gave this theme greater recognition and pride. The rugged terrain of Franche-Comté, with its rock formations, running hills, and seasonal foliage provided the source for many of Courbet's most memorable landscapes. During the warm spring and summer months, the land was verdant and allowed Courbet to explore a palette characterized by endless shades of green, ranging from emerald to chartreuse. During the winter months, this dramatic region was transformed into a snowy, solitary landscape (see lot 112).