Apples, Pears, and Primroses on a Table
Gustave Courbet (French, 1819-1877)
On View

In an 1872 letter, Courbet’s sister Zoë described this picture as “a large painting, a dozen pears, apples, etc., heaped pleasingly on a table . . . Gustave is enchanted with it. He says that he never achieved such gracious effects of color.” It is among the finest still lifes Courbet painted, describing with poignant sensuality the irregular form, the scarred, lustrous skin of each fruit. But the picture is more than an exercise in “gracious effects of color”: in the lower right-hand corner, Courbet signed and dated it, adding the inscription “Sainte-Pélagie.” These words refer to the prison where the artist was detained in 1871 for his participation in a popular uprising known as the Commune.


  • Artist Name: Gustave Courbet (French, 1819-1877)
  • Title: Apples, Pears, and Primroses on a Table
  • Date: 1871-1872
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: 23-1/2 x 28-3/4 in. (59.7 x 73 cm)
  • Credit Line: Norton Simon Art Foundation
  • Accession Number: M.1999.2.1.P
  • Copyright: © Norton Simon Art Foundation

Object Information

[Durand-Ruel, 1872].
[W. Craibe Angus, Glasgow].
John Glas Sandeman, by 1878, still in 1886.
Thomas Glenn Arthur, by 1888, to;
James Arthur, by 1901.
[Ian MacNicol, Glasgow].
?Private Collection, Scotland, by 1962.
Mrs. Margaret (Leslie) Wilson by 1963, sold 30 July 1968, through;
[Ian MacNicol Galleries, Glasgow, to];
[Reid & Lefevre, Ltd., London, stock no. 141/68, as Nature Morte, Pommes, Poires et Primulas sur une table, Saint Pélagie, sold 31 October 1968 to];
[Galerie Castiglione; sold 20 December 1968 to];
[Paul Rosenberg & Co., New York; stock no. 6336, as Nature Morte, Pommes, Poires et Primulas sur une Table, 1871, sold 29 August 1969 to];
The Norton Simon Foundation, acc. no. F.1969.35.2.P, transferred 1999 to;
Norton Simon Art Foundation.

Loan Exhibition in Aid of the Royal Infirmary

  • Glasgow, 1878 to

International Exhibition

  • Edinburgh, 1886 to

International Exhibition

  • Glasgow, 1888 to

International Exhibition

  • Glasgow, 1901 to

A Great Period of French Painting, an exhibition held in memory of the late Miss Clarica Davidson

  • London, Marlborough Fine Art, 1963-06 to 1963-07

A Man of Influence: Alex Reid 1854-1928

  • Scottish arts Council, 1967 to

XIX and XX Century French Paintings

  • London, Reid & Lefevre Gallery, 1968-11-07 to 1968-12-21

[on loan]

  • National Gallery of Art (Washington, DC), 1969-09-11 to 1969-12-28

[on loan]

  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1969-12-29 to 1971-11-15

[on loan]

  • Toronto, Art Gallery of Ontario, 1981-02-10 to 1981-08-28

[on loan]

  • Toledo, The Toledo Museum of Art, 1971-11-16 to 1973-03-06

Significant Objects: The Spell of Still Life

  • Norton Simon Museum, 2012-07-20 to 2013-01-21

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
  • Rait, Georges, Gustave Courbet, Peintre, p. 330
  • Daily Telegraph,
  • Przyblyski, J., Art Journal, fig. 1 pp. 28-37
  • Crombie, Theodore, Apollo, pp. 379, 381
  • MacColl, Dugald Sutherland, Nineteenth Century Art, 1902, pp. 175, opp. p. 146
  • Reid, A. J. McNeill, Scottish Art Review, 1962, pp. 2-3
  • Alex Reid & Lefevre: 1926-1976, 1976, pp. 50, 51
  • Toussaint, H., Gustave Courbet, 1819-1877, 1977, p. 189
  • Arts Council of Great Britain, Gustave Courbet 1819-1877, 1978, p. 189
  • Fernier, Robert, La Vie et l'Oeuvre de Gustave Courbet: Catalogue Raisonné, Peintures 1866-1877, 1978, no. 780 p. 131
  • Morse, John D., Old Master Paintings in North America, 1979, p. 69
  • Nochiln, Linda; and Sarah Faunce, Courbet Reconsidered, 1988, p. 91
  • Masterpieces from the Norton Simon Museum, 1989, p. 121
  • Fried, M., Courbet's Realism, 1990, pl. 14 pp. 246-248
  • Rewald, John, The History of Impressionism, 2004, p. 273
  • 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. 685 p. 327

Additional Artwork by Artist

Cliff at Étretat, the Porte d' Aval Gustave Courbet 1869
Henri Rochefort Gustave Courbet 1874
Marine Gustave Courbet c. 1865 -1866

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