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PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT AMERICAN COLLECTION

Gustave Courbet
FRENCH
DEUX BATEAUX SUR LA PLAGE
Estimate
700,0001,000,000
LOT SOLD. 749,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT
19

PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT AMERICAN COLLECTION

Gustave Courbet
FRENCH
DEUX BATEAUX SUR LA PLAGE
Estimate
700,0001,000,000
LOT SOLD. 749,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

19th Century European Art

|
New York

Gustave Courbet
1819 - 1877
FRENCH
DEUX BATEAUX SUR LA PLAGE
signed G. Courbet (lower right)
oil on canvas
23 1/2 by 31 7/8 in.
59.7 by 80.9 cm
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

We would like to thank Ms. Sarah Faunce for kindly confirming the authenticity of this lot.  This work will be included in Ms. Faunce's forthcoming critical catalogue of the artist's work.

Provenance

Collection J.P. Mazoroz, Lons-le-Saunier, Jura (and sold, Hotel Drouot, Paris, May 13-14, 1890, lot 12, as Mer houleuse and as inscribed on the stretcher)
Wildenstein, New York (by 1948)
Private Collection, United States
Property belonging to the heirs of the estate of Eva Petschek Newman, and sold, Christie's, New York, October 13, 1994, lot 113, illustrated
Sayn-Wittgenstein Fine Art, New York (acquired at the above sale)
Salander-O'Reilly Galleries, New York (by 1998)
Acquired from the above

Exhibited

New York, Wildenstein & Co., Courbet, December 2, 1948 - January 8, 1949, no. 24, p. 33, illustrated
New York, Salander-O'Reilly Galleries, Roslyn Harbor, Nassau County Museum of Art, Courbet Later Paintings, January 6-May 24, 1998 (outside the catalogue)
Tokyo, Murauchi Art Museum, The Courbet Exhibition- A Painter with Hunter's Eye, November 1-December 24, 2002, no. 4B-16
New York, Salander-O'Reilly Galleries, Gustave Courbet, October 28-November 29, 2003

Literature

Robert Fernier, La vie et l'oeuvre de Gustave Courbet, Lausanne and Paris, 1978, vol. II, p. 184, no. 915, illustrated p. 185
Pierre Courthion, L'opera completa di Courbet, Milan, 1985, p. 124, no. 912, illustrated

Catalogue Note

Courbet’s first glimpse of the sea came during a trip to the Normandy Coast in 1841.  He was travelling with his boyhood friend, Urbain Cuenot, and in a letter to his family in Ornans, he commented, “…I am delighted with this trip, which has quite developed my ideas about different things I need for my art. We finally saw the sea, the horizon-less sea –how odd for a mountain dweller.  We saw the beautiful boats that sail on it.  It is too inviting, one feels carried away…” (P. ten Doesschate Chu, ed., Letters of Gustave Courbet, Chicago, 1992, p. 38, letter 41-2).  Courbet’s “sea landscapes,” as he referred to them, were painted at various intervals throughout his career, and coincided with trips he made to the Normandy Coast.  The first, in what may be considered a series of “sea landscapes,” occurred in 1865 and 1866 during Courbet’s sojourns in Trouville and Deauville respectively. These beach scenes were primarily characterized by calm seas and low tides, and often provided the backdrop for Courbet’s Trouville portrait paintings (eg. The Countess Karoly and the Nodler Brothers).  When he next returned to the region in 1869, his paintings took on a new dimension; this was the period of his dramatic wave paintings and beach scenes focusing on the terrain around Étretat.

This was a prolific and busy time for Courbet. He spent nearly two months in Étretat during the late summer of 1869, and when he returned to Paris he boasted of having painted over twenty seascapes, two of which he submitted to the Salon of 1870.  This flurry of activity was most likely prompted by a specific commission to paint marine scenes from the dealers Durand- Ruel or Haro.  It is very likely that Deux bateaux sur la plage was painted during this period, either on site, or back in Courbet’s studio.  While Robert Fernier dates this picture to 1873, there really is no stylistic evidence for this placement. 

The treatment of the shoreline textures is reminiscent of other Étretat “sea landscapes,” with its dry, crumbly brushwork representing the crushed shells and pebbles.  The sea itself changes from deep blue to aqua as it recedes toward the horizon line; this cool palette only broken by the agitation of the frothy white waves as they crest and roll to shore.  Clusters of pale peach clouds intercept the sea from the blue and white sky above.   The mood is atmospheric but specific, suggesting the end of a late summer storm, which leaves the sand cool and damp.  The ever-changing weather, and especially the fast-moving storms, was a feature of Courbet’s Étretat paintings; he even chose a storm scene for one of the 1870 Salon entries.  Unlike Boudin, who Courbet met at Deauville in 1866 and who populated his seaside scenes with elegant “crinolines,” Courbet never included people in his Étretat paintings; nature alone was Courbet’s subject.   It has been suggested that the lack of humanity in these works, and especially Courbet’s interest in showing abandoned boats, as in the present painting, may have signaled his concern that the onslaught of tourism was ruining the fishing industry in the Normandy seaside towns (P. Ten-Doesschate Chu, “It Took Millions of Years to Compose That Picture,” Courbet Reconsidered, exh cat., Brooklyn, 1988, p. 60). Because Courbet came from a farming background, he may have been sympathetic to the plight of the fishermen, who also made their living from a rural tradition.

The first owner of Deux bateaux sur la plage was Courbet’s fellow countryman, Jean Paul Mazaroz, who had amassed a large collection of the artist’s works over his lifetime.  Mazaroz was an important furniture maker,  but he also wrote books and pamphlets about social injustices such as the fate of workers and universal suffrage.

19th Century European Art

|
New York