Cliff at Étretat, the Porte d' Aval
Gustave Courbet (French, 1819-1877)
On View

The extension of a railway line from Paris via Le Havre brought tourism to the tiny fishing village of Étretat in the 1850s. Writers and artists soon flocked to the town, its picturesque half-mile of beach, and its striking rock formations. Guy de Maupassant, Jacques Offenbach, Camille Corot, Eugène Boudin, and Claude Monet all spent time there, but none conjured its crumbled cliff faces and chill, frothy sea more effectively than Courbet, who spent five weeks in an Étretat cottage during the fall of 1869. His rugged method of paint application—using a palette knife as often as a brush—was ideally suited to the rough topography and lonely aspect of the place.


  • Artist Name: Gustave Courbet (French, 1819-1877)
  • Title: Cliff at Étretat, the Porte d' Aval
  • Date: 1869
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: 25-3/4 x 32 in. (65.4 x 81.3 cm)
  • Credit Line: The Norton Simon Foundation
  • Accession Number: F.1969.06.2.P
  • Copyright: © The Norton Simon Foundation

Object Information

Édouard-Napoléan-Cesar-Edmond, 5th Duc de Trévise, Paris (1883-1946).
[Galerie Alfred Daber, Paris, sold 1949 to];
[Paul Rosenberg & Co., New York, stock no. 5371, sold October 1950 to];
Mr. and Mrs. R. Sturgis Ingersoll, Pennlyn, Pennsylvania, sold 1969, through Jane Wade, to;
The Norton Simon Foundation.

[on loan]

  • Phoenix, Phoenix Art Museum, 1969-08-18 to 1969-12-15
  • Lindon, Raymond, Gazette des Beaux-Arts,fig. 4 pp. 353-360
  • Fernier, Robert, La Vie et l'Oeuvre de Gustave Courbet: Catalogue Raisonné: Peintures 1866-1877, p. 97
  • Masterpieces from the Norton Simon Museum,1989, p. 120
  • Bénédite, Léonce; Jean Laran and Philippe Gaston-Dreyfus, Gustave Courbet, With a Biographical and Critical Study,pl. XLI pp. 81-82
  • Morse, John D., Old Master Paintings in North America,1979, p. 69
  • Brettell, Richard R. and Stephen F. Eisenman, Nineteenth-Century Art in the Norton Simon Museum, volume 1,2006,
  • Riat, Georges, Gustave Courbet, peintre, p. 268
  • Campbell, Sara, Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best,2010, cat. 632 p. 321
  • Bénédite, Léonce; Jean Laran and Philippe Gaston-Dreyfus, Courbet,pl. XLI pp. 97-98
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Additional Artwork by Artist

Apples, Pears, and Primroses on a Table Gustave Courbet 1871-1872
Henri Rochefort Gustave Courbet 1874
Marine Gustave Courbet c. 1865 -1866

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