Courbet first witnessed a waterspout at Trouville, a village on the Channel Coast, in 1865 or 1866. This dramatic phenomenon, a tornado at sea, occurs when temperature differences in the air create a whirling spiral of wind and water. Courbet first painted the subject in 1866 (Philadelphia Museum of Art). The present picture features the cliffs of Étretat, as does a second, undated version of the composition (Musée des Beaux-Arts, Dijon).
Inscription: Signed and dated (lower right): G. Courbet / 70
sale, Galerie Helbing, Munich, June 26, 1907, no. 8, as "Meeresstrand", for Fr 5,750; Mrs. H. O. (Louisine W.) Havemeyer, New York (1912–d. 1929; bought through Théodore Duret in December 1912, for Fr 16,000; shipped to her on January 11, 1913; cat., 1931, p. 89); her son, Horace Havemeyer, New York (1929)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The H. O. Havemeyer Collection," March 11–November 2, 1930, no. 40 (as "Marine—The Waterspout") [2nd ed., 1958, no. 86].
Wooster, Ohio. Josephine Long Wishart Museum of Art. "Exhibition of Paintings of French, Italian, Dutch, Flemish and German Masters, lent by The Metropolitan Museum of Art," October 20–December 15, 1944, unnumbered cat. (p. 5).
Indianapolis Museum of Art. "Treasures from the Metropolitan," October 25, 1970–January 3, 1971, no. 69.
Wichita Art Museum. "5000 Years of Art from The Metropolitan Museum of Art," October 23, 1977–January 15, 1978, no. 47.
Hamburger Kunsthalle. "Courbet und Deutschland," October 19–December 17, 1978, no. 283 (as "Die Wasserhose [La trombe]").
Frankfurt. Städelsches Kunstinstitut und Städtische Galerie. "Courbet und Deutschland," January 17–March 18, 1979, no. 283.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection," March 27–June 20, 1993, no. A152 (as "Marine: The Waterspout").
Harry B. Wehle. "The Exhibition of the H. O. Havemeyer Collection." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 25 (March 1930), p. 55.
R. H. Wile[n]ski. French Painting. Boston, 1931, p. 224, dates it 1876.
H. O. Havemeyer Collection: Catalogue of Paintings, Prints, Sculpture and Objects of Art. n.p., 1931, p. 89, call it "Marine—The Waterspout" and misread the inscribed date as 76.
Louisine W. Havemeyer. Sixteen to Sixty: Memoirs of a Collector. New York, 1961, p. 195, calls it "La Trombe" and lists it among her "minor Courbets".
Charles Sterling and Margaretta M. Salinger. French Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 2, XIX Century. New York, 1966, pp. 131–32, ill., state that although it is dated 1870, it was probably painted in 1869 in Étretat; mention two earlier paintings of a waterspout dated 1866 and 1867.
Robert Fernier. La vie et l'oeuvre de Gustave Courbet. Vol. 2, Peintures, 1866–1877. Lausanne, 1978, p. 112, no. 756, ill. p. 113, as "La Jetée, marine à la vague"; dates it 1870.
Prof. Dr. Peter-Klaus Schuster inCourbet und Deutschland. Exh. cat., Hamburger Kunsthalle. Cologne, 1978, pp. 295–97, no. 283, ill., calls it "Die Wasserhose (La trombe)"; suggests precedents for Courbet's seascapes in late Romantic artists such as Bonington and Isabey; suggests that Courbet started this work in 1869 and finished it in 1870.
Pierre Courthion. L'opera completa di Courbet. Milan, 1985, p. 115, no. 745, ill., dates it 1870.
Ann Dumas in Sarah Faunce and Linda Nochlin. Courbet Reconsidered. Exh. cat., Brooklyn Museum. Brooklyn, 1988, p. 161, under no. 52, discusses it among four other paintings of a waterspout (1866, Philadelphia Museum of Art, F595; private collection, Japan, F604; 1870, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Dijon, F753; and 1870, formerly Knoedler, New York, F757).
Klaus Herding. Courbet: To Venture Independence. New Haven, 1991, pp. 167–68, 250 n. 25, notes that contemporary caricaturists criticized the "emptiness" of this composition.
Louisine W. Havemeyer. Sixteen to Sixty: Memoirs of a Collector. Ed. Susan Alyson Stein. 3rd ed. [1st ed. 1930, repr. 1961]. New York, 1993, pp. 195, 328 n. 256, p. 330 n. 275.
Susan Alyson Stein inSplendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, pp. 261, 286, pl. 257.
Gretchen Wold inSplendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, p. 318, no. A152, ill.
Jeffery Howe inCourbet: Mapping Realism; Paintings from the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium and American Collections. Ed. Jeffery Howe. Exh. cat., McMullen Museum of Art, Boston College. Chestnut Hill, Mass., 2013, p. 81, fig. 19.
Dumas (1988) discusses four other versions of this subject, including one in the Philadelphia Museum of Art and one in the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Dijon (Fernier 1977, nos. 595 and 753).