Stream of the Puits-Noir at Ornans

Gustave Courbet (French, 1819-1877)
c. 1867-1868
Oil on canvas 
39-3/8 x 59-1/4 in. (100 x 150.5 cm) 
Credit Line:
Norton Simon Art Foundation, Gift of Mr. Norton Simon 
Accession Number:
© Norton Simon Art Foundation 
Not on View

Courbet likely worked on this canvas during a fall 1868 visit to his birthplace at Ornans in the far eastern reaches of France. The painting depicts a stretch of the river Brème little more than two miles from Ornans itself and bears a scratched-out, over-painted date of “68” in the lower left-hand corner. The picture is thickly painted, worked up with both brush (for the bare, wispy tree branches) and palette knife (for the lichen-crusted limestone cliffs and the frothy water). The painting’s rough, almost mineral surface gives literal form to its rocky subject. Courbet treated the same gorge, transformed by spring, in a painting today at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.


Duke of Wagram, Paris; until 1906;
[Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, by 1906];
[Galerie Heinemann, Munich, by 1908, sold 1911 for 18,500 goldmarks to];
Hugo Schmeil, Dresden (sale, Berlin, Galerie Paul Cassirer, 17 October 1916, lot 8, ill., as Le Ruisseau du Puits Noir d’Ornans, bought in at RM 15,500).
[Emil Baum, Galerie Baum, Munich, sold 13 July 1922 for 870,000 mks to];
Leo Meijer, Amsterdam, sold late 1940s.
Thomas Mitchell (1892-1962), Beverly Hills, by 1948, still in 1950.
[Paul Kantor Gallery, Beverly Hills, stock no. K1724, sold 1965 to];
Norton Simon, gift 1976 to;
Norton Simon Art Foundation.

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