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Madame de Brayer

Gustave Courbet (French, Ornans 1819–1877 La Tour-de-Peilz)

Date:
1858
Medium:
Oil on canvas
Dimensions:
36 x 28 5/8 in. (91.4 x 72.7 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929
Accession Number:
29.100.118
  • Gallery Label

    Courbet made this portrait during an 1858 trip to Brussels intended to cultivate a Belgian market for his work. Shown that summer in Antwerp, the picture earned praise for its forthright portrayal of a woman who was not conventionally beautiful, but seemed "strong-willed… and full of spirit." The painting remained in the sitter’s family until it was purchased in 1907, at the recommendation of Mary Cassatt, by Louisine and H.O. Havemeyer. Mrs. Havemeyer later recalled that Madame de Brayer was a Polish exile married to a Belgian.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Signed and dated (lower right): G. Courbet..58

  • Provenance

    the family of the sitter, Brussels (until 1907; sold, spring 1907, through Théodore Duret and Mary Cassatt to Havemeyer); Mr. and Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, New York (until his d.1907; shipped to them by Durand-Ruel, May 11, 1907, deposit no. 11181, as "Portrait de femme"); Mrs. H. O. (Louisine W.) Havemeyer, New York (1907–d. 1929; cat., 1931, pp. 90–91, ill.)

  • Exhibition History

    Antwerp. Société royale pour l'encouragement des beaux-arts. "Salon d'Anvers," August 8–?, 1858, no. 150 (as "Portrait de Mme X . . . ," lent by M. le docteur Breyer [sic], Brussels).

    Brussels. Cercle Artistique et Littéraire. "14 tableaux de Gustave Courbet exposés appartenant à des collectionneurs belges," 1878 [see Fernier 1977].

    Brussels. location unknown. "Portraits du siècle (1789–1889)," 1889, no. 51 [see Fernier 1977].

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Loan Exhibition of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Paintings," May 3–September 15, 1921, no. 25 (as "Polish Exile—Madame de Brayer," lent anonymously).

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The H. O. Havemeyer Collection," March 10–November 2, 1930, no. 26 (as "The Polish Exile—Mme de Brayer) [2nd ed., 1958, no. 84].

    Art Institute of Chicago. "A Century of Progress," June 1–November 1, 1934, no. 178.

    Paris. Palais National des Arts. "Chefs d'œuvre de l'art français," July–September 1937, no. 278.

    Detroit Institute of Arts. "Thirty-Eight Great Paintings from The Metropolitan Museum of Art," October 2–October 28, 1951, no catalogue.

    Art Gallery of Toronto. "Thirty-Eight Great Paintings from The Metropolitan Museum of Art," November 14–December 12, 1951, no catalogue.

    City Art Museum of St. Louis. "Thirty-Eight Great Paintings from The Metropolitan Museum of Art," January 6–February 4, 1952, no catalogue.

    Seattle Art Museum. "Thirty-Eight Great Paintings from The Metropolitan Museum of Art," March 1–June 30, 1952, no catalogue.

    Philadelphia Museum of Art. "Gustave Courbet, 1819–1877," December 17, 1959–February 14, 1960, no. 34.

    Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. "Gustave Courbet, 1819–1877," February 26–April 14, 1960, no. 34.

    Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. "Masterpieces of Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," September 16–November 1, 1970, unnumbered cat. (p. 75).

    Paris. Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais. "Gustave Courbet, 1819–1877," September 30, 1977–January 2, 1978, no. 56.

    London. Royal Academy of Arts. "Gustave Courbet, 1819–1877," January 19–March 19, 1978, no. 53.

    Brooklyn Museum. "Courbet Reconsidered," November 4, 1988–January 16, 1989, no. 31.

    Minneapolis Institute of Arts. "Courbet Reconsidered," February 18–April 30, 1989, no. 31.

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection," March 27–June 20, 1993, no. A129.

    Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts de Lausanne. "Courbet: Artiste et promoteur de son oeuvre," November 21, 1998–March 7, 1999, no. 11 (as "Portrait de Mme de Brayer" or "L'exilée polonaise").

    Stockholm. Nationalmuseum. "Gustave Courbet: en revoltör lanserar sitt verk," March 26–May 30, 1999, no. 11.

    Brussels. Palais des Beaux-Arts. "Bruxelles: Carrefour de cultures," September 8–November 5, 2000, unnumbered cat.

    Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. "The Masterpieces of French Painting from The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1800–1920," February 4–May 6, 2007, no. 25.

    Berlin. Neue Nationalgalerie. "Französische Meisterwerke des 19.Jahrhunderts aus dem Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," June 1–October 7, 2007, unnumbered cat.

    Paris. Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais. "Gustave Courbet," October 13, 2007–January 28, 2008, no. 141.

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Gustave Courbet," February 27–May 18, 2008, no. 141.

    Montpellier. Musée Fabre. "Gustave Courbet," June 14–September 28, 2008, no. 141.

  • References

    F. van den Berghen. "Exposition d'Anvers." L'Artiste, 7ème sér., 5 (September 5, 1858), pp. 4–5, in a review of Exh. Antwerp 1858, calls this picture "le plus fort de toute la galerie".

    Camille Lemonnier. G. Courbet et son oeuvre. Paris, [1878], p. 72 [reprinted in Lemonnier, "Les Peintres de la vie," 1888, pp. 49–50], describes a portrait in Exh. Brussels 1878 of a woman "affublée d'une laideur sentimentale et pincée" [probably this picture]
    probably this work.

    J. Krexpel. "L'exposition des portraits des maîtres du siècle, à Bruxelles." La Revue blanche, série 3, 2 (May 1890), p. 57, as a portrait of Madame Bayer [sic].

    H[arry]. B. W[ehle]. "Loan Exhibition of Modern French Paintings." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 16 (May 1921), p. 94, notes that this work was painted during Courbet's stay in Brussels in 1858, and quotes Duret's opinion of it as "perhaps the most successful that Courbet ever painted".

    Charles Léger. Courbet. Paris, 1929, p. 74.

    Harry B. Wehle. "The Exhibition of the H. O. Havemeyer Collection." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 25 (March 1930), p. 55.

    H. O. Havemeyer Collection: Catalogue of Paintings, Prints, Sculpture and Objects of Art. n.p., 1931, pp. 90–91, ill., calls it "Portrait of Madame de Brayer".

    Charles Sterling in Chefs d'œuvre de l'art français. Exh. cat., Palais National des Arts. Paris, 1937, p. 140, no. 278.

    Charles Léger. Courbet et son temps (Lettres et documents inédits). Paris, 1948, pp. 66, 192, 196, quotes a letter from Mrs. Havemeyer to Théodore Duret, in which she mentions this picture without identifying the sitter.

    Gerstle Mack. Gustave Courbet. New York, 1951, p. 150.

    Louisine W. Havemeyer. Sixteen to Sixty: Memoirs of a Collector. New York, 1961, p. 188, describes seeing the picture in a private collection in Brussels, and notes Duret's and Degas' high opinions of it.

    Charles Sterling and Margaretta M. Salinger. "XIX Century." French Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 2, New York, 1966, pp. 118–19, ill.

    Robert Fernier. "Peintures, 1819–1865." La vie et l'oeuvre de Gustave Courbet. 1, Lausanne, 1977, pp. 144–45, no. 232, ill., calls it "Portrait de Mme de Brayer, dite l'exilée polonaise".

    Hélène Toussaint in Gustave Courbet, 1819–1877. Exh. cat., Grand Palais, Paris. London, 1978, pp. 133–34, no. 53, ill. [French ed., 1977, p. 148, no. 56, ill.], considers it "one of Courbet's finest portraits, recalling Bronzino and the noble portraitists of the Renaissance".

    Pierre Courthion. L'opera completa di Courbet. Milan, 1985, p. 85–86, no. 224, ill.

    Frances Weitzenhoffer. The Havemeyers: Impressionism Comes to America. New York, 1986, pp. 178, 180, 245, 257, pl. 137, describes the Havemeyers' acquisition of this picture during a trip to Brussels with Mary Cassatt and Théodore Duret in 1907.

    Ann Dumas in Sarah Faunce and Linda Nochlin. Courbet Reconsidered. Exh. cat., Brooklyn Museum. Brooklyn, 1988, pp. 132–33, no. 31, ill. (color).

    Klaus Herding. Courbet: To Venture Independence. New Haven, 1991, p. 243 n. 49, suggests it is probably Courbet's earliest use of a planar, non-objective background color.

    Gustave Courbet. Letters of Gustave Courbet. Chicago, 1992, pp. 158, 160 n. 2, reprints a letter of Courbet's to his father, which she dates 1858, suggesting that his reference to painting two portraits while in Brussels includes this work.

    Louisine W. Havemeyer. Sixteen to Sixty: Memoirs of a Collector. 3rd ed. [1st ed. 1930, repr. 1961]. New York, 1993, pp. 188, 202, 329 n. 261.

    Susan Alyson Stein in Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, pp. 246, 278, pl. 244.

    Gary Tinterow in Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, p. 24.

    Gretchen Wold in Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, p. 312, no. A129, ill. p. 313.

    Jörg Zutter in Courbet: Artiste et promoteur de son œuvre. Exh. cat., Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts de Lausanne. Paris, 1998, pp. 20, 30, 132, no. 11, colorpl. 71, remarks on the use of a balustrade to separate the interior from the exterior; observes that, despite the title, the identity of the sitter is unknown, but suggests that the black dress, hair brooch, and seriousness of the sitter allude to her widowhood.

    Rebecca A. Rabinow. "Modern Art Comes to the Metropolitan: The 1921 Exhibition of 'Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Paintings'." Apollo 152 (October 2000), p. 10.

    Valérie Bajou. Courbet. Paris, 2003, pp. 316–17, ill. (color), questions the identity of the sitter as Madame de Brayer, in spite of the picture's title, and remarks that the model is unknown.

    Kathryn Calley Galitz in Masterpieces of European Painting, 1800–1920, in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, pp. 57, 233–34, no. 54, ill. (color and black and white).

    Kathryn Calley Galitz in The Masterpieces of French Painting from The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1800–1920. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. New York, 2007, pp. 45, 199, no. 25, ill. (color and black and white).

    Kathryn Calley Galitz in Gustave Courbet. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. New York, 2008, pp. 149, 306–7, no. 141, ill. (color) [French ed., Paris, 2007].



  • See also
436000

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