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La source de la Loue (The Source of the Loue)

Gustave Courbet (French, 1819–1877). La Source de la Loue (The Source of the Loue), ca. 1864. Oil on canvas, 42 1/4 x 54 1/8 inches (107.3 x 137.5 cm). Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; George B. and Jenny R. Mathews Fund, 1959 (1959:1).

Public Domain

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Public Domain

Image downloads are for educational use only. For all other purposes, please see our Obtaining and Using Images page.

Public Domain

Image downloads are for educational use only. For all other purposes, please see our Obtaining and Using Images page.

Gustave Courbet

French, 1819-1877

La source de la Loue (The Source of the Loue), ca. 1864

oil on canvas

support: 42 1/4 x 54 1/8 inches (107.315 x 137.4775 cm); framed: 50 5/16 x 62 7/8 x 4 1/2 inches (127.79 x 159.7 x 11.43 cm)

Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York

George B. and Jenny R. Mathews Fund, 1959

1959:1

Collection Highlight

More Details

Inscriptions

signature, undated / lower left / G. Courbet

Provenance

Gallery Georges Bernheim;
to Henri Matisse Collection;
to Pierre Matisse Gallery;
purchased by the Albright Art Gallery, January 27, 1959

Class

Paintings

Work Type

Oil painting

This information may change due to ongoing research. Glossary of Terms

Although Gustave Courbet resided in Paris for most of his life, he remained closely connected to his birthplace, a region near the Swiss border called the Franche-Comté, returning often to paint the landscape and its people. One of the area’s natural wonders is the source of the Loue River, a scene Courbet painted numerous times beginning in 1848. The river is initially subterranean before emerging from the large grotto depicted here. Courbet mimicked the textures of rock and flowing water by thickly applying paint to the canvas with a palette knife. Somber browns and dark greens are punctuated by touches of red, pink, and blue, further conveying the cool dampness of place. Courbet aimed to make made bold social statements through his work, often courting scandal with his depictions of grave working-class conditions, and this seemingly straightforward rendering of a landscape is no exception. Although The Source of the Loue appears neutral, the foreboding darkness at the painting’s heart symbolizes the artist’s vehement opposition to the industrial endeavors that Napoleon III’s Second Empire brought to the French countryside so near and dear to his heart.

Label from Humble and Human: An Exhibition in Honor of Ralph C. Wilson, Jr., February 2–May 26, 2019

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