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ID number:  BIRBI-47.2
Institution:  The Barber Institute of Fine Arts
Artist / Maker:  Courbet, Jean-Désiré Gustave (1819-1877)
Title / Object name:  The sea-arch at Étretat
Object type:  Painting
Place made:  Normandy
Culture:  French
Date made:  1869
Materials:  Oil on canvas
Measurements:  76.2 x 123.1 cm unframed: 99.2 x 146.3 x 12.1cm framed
Provenance:  Private Collection; purchased by Georges Bernheim & Cie, Paris; purchased by Percy Moore Turne, London, 1929; purchased by Reid & Lefèvre, 1947; purchased by the Barber Institute in 1947 for £1,850.

The spectacular cliffs at Etretat culminate in a dramatic sea-arch with a needle of rock beyond. Courbet visited in the summer of 1869 and in a month completed five views of the cliffs and numerous seascapes. He worked quickly, painting out of doors. Here he uses a palette knife and a loaded brush for the rugged cliffs and contrasts this with the smoother texture of the grass and the hazy sky. Etretat was a popular resort, but Courbet minimises any signs of humanity. Courbet’s landscapes were a commercially successful alternative to his Realist figure subjects which caused so much controversy.

Inscriptions / Translations:  Signed 1.1.: G. Courbet

Notes:  Exhibited: 'Exposition des Oeuvres de Courbet', Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris, France, 1882; 'Ninteenth Century French Masterpieces', Independent Gallery, London, UK, 1930, cat. no. 7; 'Gustave Courbet', Mayor Gallery, London, UK, 1936, cat. no. 12; 'Daumier, Millet, Courbet', National Museum of Wales, Cardiff, UK, 1957, cat. no. 32; 'Impressionism', Royal Academy, London, UK, 09 February 1974 - 28 April 1974, cat. no. 33; 'Lighting up the Landscape', National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh, UK, 01 August 1986 - 19 October 1986, cat. no. 78; 'French Impressionism: Treasures from the Midlands', Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham, UK, 07 June 1991 - 18 August 1991, pp.10-11; 'Monet: The Seine and The Sea 1878-1883', National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh, UK, 2003, cat. no. 88; 'Impressionists by the Sea', Royal Academy, London, UK, 07 July 2007 - 30 September 2007, cat. no. 25; 'The Lens of Impressionism: Photography and Painting along the Normandy Coast, 1850-1874', University of Michigan Museum of Art, USA, 10 October 2009 - 03 January 2010; 'The Lens of Impressionism: Photography and Painting along the Normandy Coast, 1850-1874', Dallas Museum of Art, Texas, USA, 17 February 2010 - 23 May 2010; 'Monet and the French Impressionists', AROS Art Museum, Aarhus, Denmark, 09 October 2015 - 10 January 2016

1 Related People

Courbet, Jean-Désiré Gustave

4 Related Publications

Les Peintres a Etretat 1786-1940
Delarue, B
Yport/ France-Quercy
Lighting up the landscape

National Gallery of Scotland
Monet: The Seine and The Sea 1878-1883
Clarke, M. and Thomson, R.
The Trustees of the National Galleries of Scotland
The Lens of Impressionism: Photography and Painting along the Normandy Coast, 1850-1874
James Christen Steward

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