Peasant Girl with a Scarf

Gustave Courbet (French, 1819-1877)
c. 1849
Oil on canvas 
23-5/8 x 28-3/4 in. (60 x 73 cm) 
Credit Line:
Norton Simon Art Foundation 
Accession Number:
© Norton Simon Art Foundation 
Not on View

Courbet was the father of the Realist movement in painting. Eschewing the angels and make-believe of academic history painting in favor of “objects that the artist can see and touch,” Courbet devoted much of his early career to the peasants of his native Franche-Comté, a region rocked in the mid-nineteenth-century by the mechanization and modernization of farming. Here a young girl, flushed with sun (or perhaps desire), appears in uncomfortable close-up, gazing into the distance, where a man retreats into the shadows. The picture’s peasant subject and the willfully awkward relationship between figure and landscape would have discomfited many contemporary Parisian viewers, who regarded such choices as not only aesthetically radical but politically radical as well. “Realism,” as Courbet insisted, “is essentially democratic.”


The artist, to;
M. Weill;
D’Ol*** (sale, Paris, Hôtel Drouot, 9 December 1876, lot 20, as Tête de femme);
[Galerie Durand-Ruel, Paris];
A. H. Stirlin, Zurich, by 1935, by inheritance to;
H. R. Stirlin, Zurich and St.-Prex, Switzerland, still in 1955, sold to;
[Drs. Fritz and Peter Nathan, Zurich];
[Acquavella Galleries, New York, sold 1966 to];
John T. Dorrance, Jr., Gladwyne, Pennsylvania (sale, New York, Sotheby’s, 18 October 1989, lot 2, color ill., as Paysanne au madras), to;
[Acquavella Galleries, New York, sold 7 December 1989, as Peasant Girl with a Scarf, to];
Norton Simon Art Foundation.

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