Cliff at Étretat, the Porte d' Aval

Gustave Courbet (French, 1819-1877)
Oil on canvas 
25-3/4 x 32 in. (65.4 x 81.3 cm) 
Credit Line:
The Norton Simon Foundation 
Accession Number:
© The Norton Simon Foundation 
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.


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.

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