87
87
Gustave Courbet
FRENCH
FALAISES D'ÉTRETAT
Estimate
400,000600,000
LOT SOLD. 725,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT
87
Gustave Courbet
FRENCH
FALAISES D'ÉTRETAT
Estimate
400,000600,000
LOT SOLD. 725,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

19th Century European Art

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New York

Gustave Courbet
1819 - 1877
FRENCH
FALAISES D'ÉTRETAT
signed G. Courbet and dated 69 (lower right)
oil on canvas
25 5/8 by 31 7/8 in.
65 by 80.9 cm
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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

Possibly, Georges Lutz (by 1882)
Galerie Roque, Paris
Galerie Tooth, London
F. W. Burnham, London (acquired from the above in 1955)
Galerie Thomas Agnew and Sons, Ltd., London (acquired from the above in 1977)

Exhibited

Possibly, Paris, École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts, Exposition des œuvres de Gustave Courbet à l'Ecole des beaux-arts, May 1882, no. 189 (not included in the catalogue)

Literature

Possibly, Robert Fernier, La vie et l'oeuvre de Gustave Courbet, catalogue raisonné,  Lausanne and Paris, 1977, vol. II, p. 326 (not illustrated)
Pierre Courthion, Tout l'oeuvre peint de Courbet, Paris, 1987, p. 112, no. 690, illustrated

Catalogue Note

Courbet visited the Normandy coast in 1865 and many of the seascapes that he painted during this prolific stay were exhibited in at the Rond-point de l’Alma in 1867, firmly establishing his reputation as a master of the genre. Partly because of this exhibition, these paintings became very lucrative for Courbet and he returned to the area in the following years to complete a number of commissions. The works from this period are varied in their depictions of the sea, a privileged subject in Courbet’s oeuvre.

During his last visit in 1869, he produced more than twenty-nine seascapes, of which the present work is surely one. Many were later finished in his Paris studio or else he went on to complete variants of existing compositions (see Étretat: Les Falaises, 1870, sold in these rooms for a record price of $3,749,000, November 6, 2013, lot 40). During this visit, he wrote to his family in September: “We are very comfortable in Étretat… It is a charming little resort place. There are rocks here that are bigger than Ornans, quite curious” (Petra ten-Doesschate Chu, Letters of Gustave Courbet, London, 1992, p. 352). That same year, Courbet contributed two works to the Paris Salon that would bring him enormous acclaim, The Stormy Sea (also called The Wave) and The Cliff at Étretat after the Storm, both of which are in the collection of the Musée d’Orsay.

The dramatic cliffs of Étretat have inspired artists for centuries; Eugène Delacroix, Claude Monet, and Eugène Boudin among them. Each of these artists brought a unique perspective to the convergence of earth and sea and sky, but it was Gustave Courbet’s rigorous pictorial interpretations that would inspire the visits of countless later artists.  When Monet visited the region with plans to create a series of seascapes in 1883, the year following Courbet’s École des Beaux-Arts retrospective featuring a number of his Étretat compositions, he wrote: “I reckon on doing a big canvas on the cliff of Étretat, although it’s terribly audacious of me to do that after Courbet who did it so well, but I’ll try to do it differently” (as quoted in John House, Monet: Nature into Art, New Haven, 1986, p. 23).  Monet’s Cliffs at Etretat (1885, Sterling and Francine Clark Art Instiute, fig. 1), clearly shows his Impressionist departure from Courbet’s treatment of the same subject, whose carefully observed color palette and idiosyncratic, expert mark-making stands in sharp contrast. Courbet does not shy away from using his palette knife to render the sparkling sea and craggy cliff face; a grassy sun-struck plateau atop the cliff is smoothly brushed; a jumble of gravel in the foreground is ingeniously stippled; a whole arsenal of painterly techniques has been deployed in this composition, which stands as a testament to Courbet’s painterly nerve.

19th Century European Art

|
New York