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

Gustave Courbet

  • Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1959-12 to 1960-02
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1960-02 to 1960-04

Courbet: Exposition du 130e Anniversaire de sa Naissance au profit de Amis de Gustave Courbet

  • Paris, Galerie Alfred Daber, 1949-05 to 1949-06

Loan Exhibition of Paintings by Gustave Courbet (1819-1877)

  • New York, Paul Rosenberg & Co., 1956-01-16 to 1956-02-11

[on loan]

  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1969-12-16 to 1973-03-26

Three Centuries of French Art: Selections from The Norton Simon, Inc. Museum of Art and The Norton Simon Foundation_1

  • California Palace of the Legion of Honor, 1973-05-03 to 1976-06-15

The Lure of the Water: Impressionists at the Seashore

  • Norton Simon Museum, 1993-07-01 to 1993-10-10

Images of the Landscape, Barbizon and Impressionist Paintings from the Permanent Collection

  • Norton Simon Museum, 1987-07-02 to 1989-10-29

Reinstallation of South Wing

  • Norton Simon Museum, 1993-10-07 to 1995-08-13
  • Lindon, Raymond, Gazette des Beaux-Arts, fig. 4 pp. 353-360
  • Riat, Georges, Gustave Courbet, peintre, 1906, p. 268
  • Bénédite, Léonce; Jean Laran and Philippe Gaston-Dreyfus, Gustave Courbet, With a Biographical and Critical Study, 1912, pl. XLI pp. 81-82
  • Bénédite, Léonce; Jean Laran and Philippe Gaston-Dreyfus, Courbet, 1947, pl. XLI pp. 97-98
  • Fernier, Robert, La Vie et l'Oeuvre de Gustave Courbet: Catalogue Raisonné: Peintures 1866-1877, 1978, p. 97
  • Morse, John D., Old Master Paintings in North America, 1979, p. 69
  • Masterpieces from the Norton Simon Museum, 1989, p. 120
  • Brettell, Richard R. and Stephen F. Eisenman, Nineteenth-Century Art in the Norton Simon Museum, volume 1, 2006,
  • Campbell, Sara, Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best, 2010, cat. 632 p. 321
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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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