The J. Paul Getty Museum

Head of a Sleeping Bacchante

Object Details

Title:

Head of a Sleeping Bacchante

Artist/Maker:

Gustave Courbet (French, 1819 - 1877)

Culture:

French

Date:

1847

Medium:

Fabricated black chalk with stumping, lifting, and scratching on laid paper

Object Number:

99.GE.43

Dimensions:

50.2 × 38.7 cm (19 3/4 × 15 1/4 in.)

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Object Description

The grape leaf crown atop this young woman's head implies that she is one of the many followers of Bacchus, revelers who lived lives of drunkenness and sexual abandon in the classical past. Her costume however, reveals that she was a contemporary of the artist. Scholars believe that the young woman depicted is actually one of Gustave Courbet's four sisters, Zélie. Her closed eyes and softly parted lips reveal that she has fallen into a state of deep slumber. Courbet contributed a sense of psychological complexity to the drawing by depicting her in dark shadows.

This richly toned drawing illustrates Courbet's disdain for the clean lines prescribed by the French Academy. He preferred to use thick deposits of conté crayon, vigorously smudged, to create texture and convey mood. This monumental life-sized drawing, like many of his paintings, was meant to create a jolting visual impact. Although Courbet included his formal signature in the lower right corner of the drawing, he also prominently placed his characteristic lower-case g on the young woman's neck, below her tendrils.

Art + Ideas Podcast: Lee Hendrix on Noir

Provenance
Provenance
by 1882
1920

Alfred-Emanuel-Louis Beurdeley, French, 1847 - 1919 (Paris, France) [sold, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, June 2-4 1920, lot 92 to André Dézarrois.]

1920- after 1944

André Dézarrois, French, 1890 - 1979

1978

Private Collection (Paris, France)
Source: Fernier, Robert. La vie et l'oeuvre de Gustave Courbet: Catalogue raisonné. 2 vols. (Geneva: Fondation Wildenstein, 1977-78), vol. 2 (1978), p. 290.

1999

With Wildenstein & Co. (New York), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1999.

Exhibitions
Exhibitions
Exposition des oeuvres de Gustave Courbet (May 1882)
  • École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts (Paris), May to May 1882
Exposition d'Art Français (May 15 to June 16, 1918) (Preface by G. Geffroy)
  • Musée d'art et d'histoire de la Ville de Genève (Geneva), May 15 to June 16, 1918
Exposition Gustave Courbet (May to June 1929) (as "portrait d'une soeur de Courbet.")
  • Musée du Petit Palais (Paris), May to June 1929
Le Dessin Français: de Fouquet à Cézanne (November 1949 to March 1950) (as "Bacchante endormie")
  • Palais des beaux-arts (Brussels), November to December 1949
  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (Rotterdam), December 1949 to January 1950
  • Musée de l'Orangerie (Paris), February to March 1950
De Watteau à Cézanne (July 7 to September 30, 1951)
  • Musée d'art et d'histoire de la Ville de Genève (Geneva), July 7 to September 30, 1951
To Create a Living Art: 19th Century Drawings (May 1 to July 15, 2001)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), May 1 to July 15, 2001
Casting Characters: Portraits and Studies of Heads (November 4, 2003 to February 1, 2004)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), November 4, 2003 to February 1, 2004
Defining Modernity: European Drawings, 1800-1900 (June 5 to September 9, 2007)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), June 5 to September 9, 2007
Gustave Courbet (October 8, 2007 to September 28, 2008)
  • Galeries nationales du Grand Palais (Paris), October 8, 2007 to January 28, 2008
Courbet: A Dream of Modern Art (October 14, 2010 to January 10, 2011)
  • Schirn Kunsthalle (Frankfurt), October 14, 2010 to January 10, 2011
Gods and Heroes: European Drawings of Classical Mythology (November 19, 2013 to February 9, 2014)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), November 19, 2013 to February 9, 2014
Noir: The Romance of Black in 19th Century French Drawings and Prints (February 9 to May 15, 2016)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), February 9 to May 15, 2016
Bibliography
Bibliography

Exposition des oeuvres de Gustave Courbet, exh. cat. (Paris: L'École des Beaux-Arts, 1882), p. 88, no. 145.

Catalogue des tableaux, dessins et sculptures de l'ecole français du XIXme siècle, exh. cat. (Genève: musée d'art et d'histoire, 1918), p. 25, no. 150.

Galerie Georges Petit, Paris. Catalogues des Dessins, Pastels, Aquarelles Modernes [...] Composant la Collection de M. A. Beurdeley. June 2-4, 1920, pp. 28, 95, lot 92, ill.

Exposition Gustave Courbet, exh. cat. (Paris: Palais des Beaux-Arts, 1929), p. 35, no. 98.

Léger, Charles. Courbet (Paris: Braun & cie., 1934; 2nd ed., Paris: Braun & cie., 1938), pl. 17.

Huyghe, René, et al. Courbet, l'atelier du peintre, allégoire réelle, 1855 (Paris: Éditions des Musées Nationaux Librairie Plon, 1944), pp. 17-18, fig. 18.

Le dessin français de Fouquet a Cézanne, exh. cat. (Brussels: Palais des Beaux-Arts, 1949), unpaginated, no. 176.

Review of Les Maîtres Français de Fouquet à Cézanne. Art et Style 14 (1950), ill.

De Watteau a Cézanne, exh. cat. (Genève: Musée de Art et d'Histoire, 1951), p. 39, no. 99, pl. XII.

Aragon, Louis. L'Exemple de Courbet (Paris: Éditions Cercle d'art, 1952), pp. 102, 207, no. 6, ill.

Fernier, Robert. La vie et l'oeuvre de Gustave Courbet: Catalogue raisonné. 2 vols. (Geneva: Fondation Wildenstein, 1977-78), vol. 2 (1978), p. 290, no. 24, ill.

Courthion, Pierre. L'opera completa di Courbet. Marina Anzil Robertini, trans. (Milan: Rizzoli, 1985), p. 135, ill.

Courthion, Pierre. Tout l'oeuvre peint de Courbet (Paris: Flammarion, 1987), p. 135, ill.

Turpin, Gérard. "'Qu'est-ce que Gustave Courbet?'" Bulletin des Amis de Gustave Courbet 100 (2000), p. 41, ill.

Hendrix, Lee. "Shaping the Getty's Collection of Drawings." Master Drawings 38, no. 3 (Autumn 2000), pp. 356, 358, fig. 4.

Des Cars, Laurence, et al. Gustave Courbet, exh. cat. (Paris: Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, 2007), p. 138, no. 26, ill.

Stuffman, Margaret. "Courbet, Drawing." In Courbet: A Dream of Modern Art, exh. cat. Herding, Klaus, and Max Hollein, eds. (Frankfurt: Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, with Hatje Cantz, 2010), p. 136.

Herding, Klaus and Max Hollein, eds. Courbet: A Dream of Modern Art, exh. cat. (Frankfurt: Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, with Hatje Cantz, 2010), pp. 150-51, cat. no. 26, ill.

Tennant Jackson, Jenny. "Courbet's Trauerspiel: Trouble with Women in the Painter's Studio." In Visual Politics Psychoanalysis, Griselda Pollock, ed. (London: I.B. Tauris, 2013), p. 98.

Hendrix, Lee. "Realism." In Noir: The Romance of Black in the 19th-Century French Drawings and Prints, exh. cat., Hendrix, Lee, ed. (Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 2016), pp. 51, 54-55, fig. 22.

Hendrix, Lee. "The Optics of Shadow." In Noir: The Romance of Black in the 19th-Century French Drawings and Prints, exh. cat., Hendrix, Lee, ed. (Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 2016), p. 95.

Hendrix, Lee, ed. Noir: The Romance of Black in the 19th-Century French Drawings and Prints, exh. cat. (Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 2016), p. 159, no. 22, fig. 22.