Jo, La Belle Irlandaise, 1865–66
Gustave Courbet (French, 1819–1877)
Oil on canvas; 22 x 26 in. (55.9 x 66 cm)
H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929 (29.100.63)
During his three-month stay in Trouville in 1865, Courbet attracted a following as a portraitist among the society women at this fashionable resort on the Normandy coast. He possibly encountered Joanna Hiffernan (born 1842/43), a "beautiful Irishwoman," through his acquaintance with fellow artist James McNeill Whistler, who was also working in Trouville in 1865. This image of Jo, Whistler's mistress and model, although dated 1866, was likely painted in 1865, when Courbet wrote of "the beauty of a superb redhead whose portrait I have begun." He would paint three repetitions with minor variations.