Grotto of Sarrazine near Nans-sous-Sainte-Anne

Object Details


Grotto of Sarrazine near Nans-sous-Sainte-Anne


Gustave Courbet (French, 1819 - 1877)




about 1864


Oil on canvas


50.2 x 60 cm (19 3/4 x 23 5/8 in.)

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To create a living art, that is my aim.
--Gustave Courbet

Through a dynamic composition and radical painting technique, Gustave Courbet emphasized the specific qualities of this primordial cave in his native region of the Jura Mountains in eastern France. Earthy hues and textures swirl around a tunnel-like entrance, drawing attention to the clear blue stream running through it. Two large boulders stand before the vortex, several feet from a wall hugged by delicate scaffolding. To mimic the cavern's craggy and colorful surfaces, Courbet used palette knives to apply and scrape off paint and brushes to mix drying paint in with wet.

Like many tourists and scientists of his day, Courbet was probably drawn to the grotto for its geological interest. In the mid-1860s, he frequently painted caves as a means to explore composition and technique freely, and to demonstrate his strong belief that artistic subjects should be rooted in one's lived experience. He saw the basis of Realism as "the denial of the ideal," the rejection of established classical subjects and a refined style. He chose instead, to paint only what he could see.

by 1874

Durand-Ruel & Cie (Paris)

- 1875

Ernest Hoschedé, French, 1837 - 1891 (France) [sold, Hoschedé sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, April 20, 1875, lot 32.]

1875 - 1876

Private Collection [sold, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, April 14, 1876, lot 16.]

by 1896

Félix Gérard père (Paris, France) [sold, Gérard sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, February 25, 1896, lot 18.]

1897 -

Georges Marchand (Cognac, France), by inheritance within the Marchand family.

- 1989

Marchand Family [sold, Sotheby's, Monaco, December 3, 1989, lot 536, cancelled by buyer.]

1989 - 2003

Marchand Family [sold, Christie's, New York, April 23, 2003, lot 37, to Salander-O'Reilly Galleries.]

2003 - 2004

Salander-O'Reilly Galleries, LLC (New York, New York), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 2004.

Gustave Courbet (October 28 to November 29, 2003) (no cat. no.)
  • Salander-O'Reilly Galleries, LLC, (New York), October 28 to November 29, 2003
Courbet and the Modern Landscape (February 21, 2006 to January 7, 2007) (Cat. 20)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), February 21 to May 14, 2006
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, June 18 to September 10, 2006
  • Walters Art Museum, (Baltimore), October 15, 2006 to January 7, 2007
Gustave Courbet (October 8, 2007 to September 28, 2008) (Cat. 115)
  • Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, (Paris), October 8, 2007 to January 28, 2008
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art, (New York), February 25 to May 18, 2008
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