Stream of the Puits-Noir at Ornans
c. 1867-1868
Gustave Courbet (French, 1819-1877)
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.


  • Artist Name: Gustave Courbet (French, 1819-1877)
  • Title: Stream of the Puits-Noir at Ornans
  • Date: c. 1867-1868
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: 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: M.1976.13.P
  • Copyright: © Norton Simon Art Foundation

Object Information

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.

Austellung Französischer Malerei des XIX. Jahrhunderts

  • Galerie Ernst Arnold (Dresden, Germany), 1914-04 to 1914-05

[on loan]

  • Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1965-06-17 to 1965-11-17

[on loan]

  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1970-01-05 to 1971-08-01

[on loan]

  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1972 to 1973-03-26

Courbet and the Modern Landscape

  • J. Paul Getty Museum, 2006-02-21 to 2006-05-14

Masters of Art from 1790 to 1950

  • Los Angeles County Fair Association, 1950-09-15 to 1950-10-01

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

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

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

Reinstallation of South Wing

  • Norton Simon Museum, 1993-10-07 to 1995-08-13
  • Meier-Graefe, Courbet, pl. 32
  • Chu, Petra Ten-Doesschate, Art Journal, fig. 2 p. 42
  • Meier-Graefe, Julius, Corot und Courbet, 1912, p. 161
  • Fernier, Robert, La Vie et L'Oeuvre de Gustave Courbet: Catalogue Raisonné, Peintures 1819-1865, 1977, no. 196
  • Arts Council of Great Britain, Gustave Courbet 1819-1877, 1978,
  • Morse, John D., Old Master Paintings in North America, 1979, p. 69
  • Masterpieces from the Norton Simon Museum, 1989, p. 120
  • Eitner, Lorenz, The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systemic Catalogue. French Paintings of the Nineteenth Century. Part I: Before Impressionism, 2000, no. 22, fig. 2 pp. 109-112
  • Thomas, Greg M., Art and Ecology in Nineteenth-Century France: The Landscape of Théodore Rousseau, 2000, fig. 44 p. 75
  • Eyerman, Charlotte; Dominique de Font-Réaulx and Mary Morton, Courbet and the Modern Landscape, 2006, plate 13 pp. 68, 74
  • 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. 268 p. 278
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Additional Artwork by Artist

Apples, Pears, and Primroses on a Table Gustave Courbet 1871-1872
Cliff at Étretat, the Porte d' Aval Gustave Courbet 1869
Henri Rochefort Gustave Courbet 1874

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