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7 The Courbet retrospective of

1882. Harbinger of the artist’s

first major monography and
catalogue raisonné
Petra ten-Doesschate Chu

In May 1882, less than five years after the death in Switzerland of Gustave Courbet,
the art critic Jules Castagnary (1830–1888) organized a large retrospective of the
artist’s work in Paris,1 the first monographic exhibition after the one Courbet had
organized himself at the occasion of the Paris Universal Exhibition of 1867.2 Held at
the École des Beaux-Arts, the exhibition featured 130 paintings and fifteen drawings
(Figure 7.1). Included among them were five paintings recently acquired by the French
state or the City of Paris, as well as a seascape borrowed from the Musée du Luxem-
bourg, France’s museum of contemporary art.3 But the vast majority of the paintings
were lent by Courbet’s heirs; by dealers, such as Paul Détrimont, Paul Durand Ruel,
Etienne-François Haro, Henri Hecht, Jules Paton, and Georges Petit; and by private
collectors, including many of Courbet’s former friends, such as Castagnary himself,
Etienne Baudry, Théodore Duret, Edouard Ordinaire, and Edouard Pasteur.4
The timing of the exhibition at the École des Beaux-Arts, five years after Cour-
bet’s death, was opportune. The artist was just beginning to be rehabilitated after his
disastrous participation in the Commune and his instigative role in the destruction
of the Vendôme Column. Even though he might not have actively participated in its
destruction, in 1875, after a protracted court case, he was condemned to pay the full
expense of the reconstruction of the column. After an equally protracted appeal, the
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verdict was confirmed two years later, in May 1877. Courbet was sentenced to pay a
little more than 323,000 francs in yearly instalments of 10,000, beginning 1 January
1878.5 By then, the artist had been in self-imposed exile in Switzerland for four years,
to forego imprisonment as well as to safeguard at least some of his financial assets.
His heavy drinking had brought on delirium tremens as well as an alcoholic liver dis-
ease that manifested itself, among other symptoms, in a massive edema. He died, age
fifty-eight, two days before the first instalment of his payment would have been due,
on 29 December 1877.6
By the time of Courbet’s death, the Column had long been rebuilt – its reconstruc-
tion was decreed on 30 May 1873, and by late December 1875, both the Column
and the Place Vendôme on which it stood looked as respectable as ever before.7 As
for France’s political situation, a little more than a year after Courbet’s death, on
30 January 1879, President Patrice de MacMahon (1808–1893) had resigned. Like
his predecessor Adolphe Thiers (1797–1877), he had embodied the oxymoron of a
monarchist president of a republic; his conservativism and that of his government
of moral order had certainly contributed to the court’s inflexible position vis-à-vis

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104 Petra ten-Doesschate Chu

Figure 7.1 Eugène Chéron, General view of Courbet’s retrospective exhibition of 1882
Source: From: Eugène Chéron, Album de l’exposition des oeuvres de Gustave Courbet à l’École des Beaux-
Arts (Paris, 1882) (Photo INHA, Paris)

Courbet. MacMahon was replaced by Jules Grévy (1807–1891), the first republican
president of the Third French Republic. One of the earliest acts of Grévy’s govern-
ment (3 March 1872) was to grant partial amnesty to participants in the Commune.
Five months later, the Republic abandoned its claims to compensation from those
who, like Courbet, had been condemned to pay fines or damages. And in July 1880,
full amnesty was extended to all Communards.8 Thus, less than three years after his
death, Courbet was posthumously pardoned for his role in the Commune, and his
heirs had been cleared of all financial responsibility for re-erecting the Column, which
for two years already had been restored to its full pre-Commune glory.
Indeed, by 1880, the time seemed ripe for the rehabilitation of Courbet, which
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quickly became something of a minor industry. In her article entitled ‘The De-Polit-
icization of Gustave Courbet: Transformation and Rehabilitation under the Third
Republic,’ Linda Nochlin shows how this rehabilitation followed three paths: one
was to disengage Courbet from politics, specifically his extremist participation in the
Commune and his role in the destruction of the Vendôme Column; the second was
to focus on his landscape paintings and to attach him firmly to the realm of nature
rather than to the socio-political content of some of his early figure paintings; and the
third was to insert Courbet’s oeuvre into the great tradition of French art, a ploy that,
according to Nochlin was extremely effective as it was ‘at once aesthetic and nation-
alistic, elevating and neutralizing.’9

The exhibition
The 1882 exhibition in the École des Beaux-Arts was an integral part of the Courbet
rehabilitation effort of the 1880s. Its organizer, Jules Castagnary, had been a friend
of Courbet since the early 1860s. Born in Saintes in 1830, he had studied law in Paris

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The Courbet retrospective of 1882 105
but had become interested in journalism and the arts. He achieved a reputation as an
art critic following his review of the 1857 Paris Salon in the journal Le Présent, and
in the next two decades he annually reviewed the Salons in the Le Monde illustré, Le
Siècle, and Le Nain jaune. A staunch republican, like Courbet, Castagnary did not,
however, join the Commune but remained a loyal friend of the artist to the end. In
1879, benefiting from his long-time association with the Republican opposition under
the Second Empire, he was elected to the newly created Conseil Supérieur des Beaux-
Arts (1875–1940), a powerful committee that advised the government on matters
related to the arts. It is in that role that Castagnary saw an opportunity to organize an
exhibition of Courbet’s work in the prestigious École des Beaux-Arts, the premier art
school in Paris, of which in 1887 he would become the director.10
In organizing the Courbet exhibition in May 1882, Castagnary, no doubt, was
encouraged by the success of an auction of part of Courbet’s estate at the Hôtel
Drouot, held six months earlier, in December 1881.11 The sale brought to light
twenty-three works by Courbet, most of which had not been seen in public for years.
Some had been hidden in different locations by Courbet’s family and friends; others
had been confiscated at the onset of his trial by various government agencies – the
Administration des domaines, the Préfecture of Paris, and the Préfecture of his native
Doubs department. The confiscated works had been returned to Courbet’s family
after Grévy’s government had cleared Courbet’s heirs from the responsibility of pay-
ing for the re-erection of the Vendome Column.
The Drouot auction drew a huge and enthusiastic crowd. Paul Eudel, that untir-
ing chronicler of Paris’s famous auction house, wrote in his book, L’Hôtel Drouot
en 1881, that in all his years of attending sales, ‘there has never been such a crowd
for a sale. Though the public is turbulent and impressionable, it is clearly intended
as a peaceful demonstration in favor of Courbet.’12 Courbet’s official rehabilitation
as an artist was made manifest at the auction through the acquisition by the French
state and the city of Paris of five major works, four of which are today in the Musée
d’Orsay, while the fifth is in the Musée du Petit Palais. Not included in the sale was
Courbet’s famous Burial at Ornans. Courbet’s sister Juliette Courbet, who was his
sole heir, in a magnanimous and politically astute gesture, had donated the painting
to the French State right before the auction.13
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The exhibition at the École des Beaux-Arts comprised all of the works acquired
by the state, but not the Burial at Ornans, which for bureaucratic reasons could not
leave the Louvre. In addition, it included numerous loans from Juliette Courbet, from
dealers, and from private collectors. The exhibition was accompanied by an eighty-
nine-page catalogue with a preface and an introductory essay by Castagnary, as well
as carefully researched entries for each work. It was also documented in an album of
twenty-three photographs, taken by Eugène Chéron.14 These show that the exhibition
for the most part was hung in groupings that combined figure paintings with land-
scapes, portraits, and still lifes. The catalog, by contrast, was organized by genres,
distinguishing between figure paintings (‘tableaux’), portraits, landscapes, marines,
still lifes, and drawings. Though all works were carefully dated, no attempt was made
to put them in chronological order within those categories.
Chéron’s photographs suggest that the hanging of the exhibition was carefully
planned so as to mitigate the impact of Courbet’s more controversial paintings, such
as The Stonebreakers (formerly Dresden, Gemäldegalerie; probably destroyed), the
Portrait of P.J. Proudhon (Paris, Musée du Petit Palais), the Young Ladies on the Bank

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106 Petra ten-Doesschate Chu

Figure 7.2 Eugène Chéron, Wall installation view (with The Stonebreakers) of Courbet’s retro-
spective exhibition of 1882, photograph
Source: Eugène Chéron, Album de l’exposition des oeuvres de Gustave Courbet à l’École des Beaux-Arts
(Paris, 1882) (Photo INHA, Paris)

of the Seine River (Paris, Musée du Petit Palais), or The Awakening (formerly Berlin,
Gerstenberg collection; probably destroyed). Each one of these controversial works
was surrounded by a grouping of smaller-size portraits, still lifes, landscape paintings,
and/or hunting scenes, as if to remind the visitor that the same artist who painted this
or that controversial work had also excelled in those inoffensive genres. On either side
of The Stonebreakers, for example (see Figure 7.2), were hung two mid-size hunting
pictures at the top, and two small sleeping nudes and two small hunting scenes at
the bottom. This strategic hanging detracted attention from a painting that had been
among the works which, as Castagnary reminded readers of the catalogue, had been
extremely controversial and widely criticized for their political message when first

The exhibition catalogue and the first Courbet monographs

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The exhibition catalogue had a short preface by Castagnary, in which he talked about
the organizational logistics of the exhibition, as well as a twenty-two-page introduc-
tory essay. Castagnary started the essay by stating categorically that the time for a
biography of Courbet had not yet come: ‘The life of the artist! Allow me to not even
allude to it. Though feelings have calmed down, it does not seem that the time is ripe
for a truthful and impartial biography. In any case, this here is not the venue to attempt
it.’16 He went on to suggest, however, that if it was too early to talk about the story of
Courbet’s life, one could at least talk about the works. ‘Besides the man, there are the
works, which also have their history.’17 With those words, Castagnary embarked on
an essay in which he wrote about Courbet’s paintings and their reception. He began
by discussing the early figure paintings and the public reaction to them.

How can we,’ he wrote, ‘after all these years, look again at the Stonebreakers,
how can we evoke the memory of The Burial at Ornans, without remembering
the storm that painting set off when it was first exhibited, and the wave of insults

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The Courbet retrospective of 1882 107
that it caused its courageous author? And remembering that storm and those
insults, how can we not ask for reasons, and try to understand by what erroneous
thinking or what prejudices an art so morally right and so powerful, and in addi-
tion so democratic and so French, has been able to raise such anger and become
something of a public scandal?18

Castagnary went on to explain that the initial scandal caused by Courbet’s work had
been due to the reactionary politics of the early 1850s, the same politics, he wrote,
that had squashed the ideals of the 1848 revolution. Though Courbet, according to
Castagnary, continued through the first half of the 1850s to paint controversial paint-
ings, he ultimately could not take the criticism any longer and began to focus on land-
scapes, flowers, and nudes. He became successful because he had a natural affinity for
nature, ‘an exquisite sensibility and an incomparable technical power.’19 He was, what
Castagnary called ‘une réceptivité,’ a receptivity, by which he meant that Courbet had
the capacity of fully taking in and comprehending the world around him and to sub-
sequently represent it in his paintings.20
There is little doubt that Castagnary’s intense involvement with the retrospective
exhibition of 1882 was a major impetus for his project of writing a monograph on
the artist. This monograph, which was intended as an ‘artist and his work’ sort of
biography, remained unfinished when he died in 1888. Parts of it were published by
the critic’s widow in 1911, more than twenty years after his death, in a series of three
instalments in the Gazette des Beaux-Arts.21 Castagnary had known Courbet since the
early 1860s and was among the few long-time friends of the artist who had not either
died (like Max Buchon and Pierre-Joseph Proudhon) or lost touch with him (like
Champfleury and Alfred Bruyas). The organization of the exhibition brought him into
renewed contact not only with Courbet’s works but also with Courbet’s sister Juliette,
who was the artist’s sole heir by virtue of a last will and testament that was found
among Courbet’s papers after his death.22 Juliette, who must have met Castagnary as
early as 1864, when he visited Courbet in Ornans, placed at his disposal the numerous
letters Courbet had sent to his family throughout his life, from his early days at the
Collège de Besançon to his final years in Swiss exile. In the fragments of the biography
published in the Gazette, Castagnary liberally quotes from them as well as from the
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letters he himself had received from the artist.

Though Castagnary’s book on Courbet was never completed, his extensive drafts
and notes may have been used by Georges Riat (1860–1905), who in the early years
of the twentieth century wrote the first definitive monograph of Courbet, a work that
still stands today as a crucial source of information on the artist’s life and work.23
What is certain is that, like Castagnary, Riat contacted Juliette Courbet when he
embarked on his biography to consult the ‘souvenirs et papiers’ that she had carefully
preserved and that contained a wealth of material related to the artist’s life.24 Ironi-
cally, Riat, too, died before he could finish his biography of Courbet, but by the time
of his premature death at age thirty-six, his book was so near completion that it was
published not long afterwards, in 1906.
Why did it take almost thirty years after Courbet’s death before the first major
monograph of Courbet saw the light? It is difficult for us to understand today the
length of the shadow that Courbet’s participation in the Commune threw over the
story of his life. Even if his work was quickly re-appreciated and, in fact, was never
really unappreciated, the story of his life was something else. Oliver Larkin tells us

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108 Petra ten-Doesschate Chu
that as late as 1921, when Léonce Bénédite, Curator of the Luxembourg Museum,
was invited, as a representative of the French State, to attend the unveiling of a Cour-
bet commemorative tablet in the artist’s native village of Ornans, he declined the invi-
tation in the last minute because he had ‘received counter instructions,’ presumably
from the highest level of the French government.25 And there was more to it. For much
of the nineteenth century, Courbet was considered a great natural talent as a painter
but not a particularly sophisticated and interesting person. The idea of writing a biog-
raphy of a man who was considered by many boorish and naïf was seen not merely as
futile but as a disservice to his art.26
Riat seems to have been unburdened by the longstanding prejudices against Cour-
bet. He was born in 1869, just years before Courbet was exiled to Switzerland for his
participation in the demolition of the Vendôme Column.27 He had no personal memo-
ries of the Commune and of Courbet’s role in it. His interest in Courbet was primarily
as a fellow countryman, for like Courbet, he came from the Doubs department in the
Franche Comté region of France. Riat was also a first-rate scholar, who considered the
biography as much a research project as a labour of love. Unlike Castagnary, who was
always on the defence of Courbet, Riat was able to take a distance and concentrate on
the facts. Or, in the words of his fellow art historian Paul Vitry, who wrote a preface
for Riat’s biography,

Mixed up as we know that he was in the events of 1871, [. . .] Courbet has [. . .]

not known the glory of a definitive consecration, despite faithful friendships like
those of Castagnary, despite the acquisition of a number of his works by the Lou-
vre. But today he has entered into history and the book that we present here will
help us to judge him historically in full knowledge of the facts.28

The 1882 exhibition catalogue and the catalogue raisonné

While the 1882 retrospective exhibition of Courbet’s work was an important impetus
to the writing of the first monograph of Courbet, it also inspired the long and discon-
tinuous effort of establishing a catalogue raisonné of the artist’s work, an effort that,
in the end, would take nearly a century. When Castagnary put together the Courbet
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retrospective in 1882, one of his goals was to establish a rigidly documented core
body of uncontested works by Courbet. Indeed, in the preface to the list of works in
the catalogue, he wrote,

In the redaction of this catalogue, we have aimed at absolute exactitude. We

have noted, for each painting, the inscribed information [signature and date] it
contains, and in transcribing it we have also given its location [. . .]. We have
mentioned the Salons and the private exhibitions organized by the artist in which
each work has hung: this provides them with something of an official civic record
[état civil], which a painting acquires over time. It becomes part of its fame and
stays with it during its lifespan.29

Though Castagnary does not mention the word ‘authenticity’ in his introductory
remarks, it is clear that his explicit emphasis on the scholarly exactitude of his cata-
logue – the importance of dates and signatures and of what he called their état civil –
their provenance and exhibition record – was his way of assuring readers that all the

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The Courbet retrospective of 1882 109
works in the exhibition were documented works by the artist. It was important to
stress this in the early 1880s as, at the time, Courbet forgeries were numerous and
ubiquitous, and everyone knew it. For this, Courbet himself was partly to blame.30
After his exile to Switzerland, in anticipation of expenses he might have to pay for
the reconstruction of the Vendôme Column, he had embarked on the wholesale pro-
duction of new works, mostly landscapes. Many of these repeated or were slight
variations on landscape paintings he had done in the 1860s – scenes from his native
Franche Comté region or marines he had done in Normandy. To maximize his pro-
ductivity, he had engaged the help of several landscape painters, including the French
artists Marcel Ordinaire and Ernest-Paul Brigot, the Polish André Slomszynski, or
‘Slom,’ and the Swiss Chérubino Pata. The extent to which these artists contributed
to the paintings produced in Switzerland is not exactly clear, but their involvement
may have been substantial. Two dealers, Paul Pia, an exiled French engineer who had
opened a gallery in Geneva, and Gustave Pétrequin-Dard, a painter and part-time art
dealer in Lausanne, sold the works to Swiss collectors and tourists.
The Swiss market was limited, however, and Courbet was eager to sell his work in
other European countries and in America. To do so, Courbet needed to get his works
to France, where he had contacts who could help with the sale of his works both in
France and abroad. But given the artist’s legal situation, it was impossible to send
signed paintings across the French border legally, as they were sure to be seized by the
government. To smuggle them out of the country, Courbet and his assistants came up
with various schemes. One was the covering up of Courbet’s signature with a piece of
cigarette paper that was subsequently covered with paint. After works thus signed had
crossed the border, the paper was removed and the area around the signature touched
up. Another was for Courbet to ship unsigned works to France and have his assistant
Pata add his initials or a full signature later, or else providing him with signed certifi-
cates that he could glue on the back of the paintings once they had arrived in France.
These practices not only created confusion, they also provided a virtual license for
fraud, which blossomed the more readily as Courbet had few friends in France looking
out for his welfare. Castagnary was among the exceptions. As early as 1873, he sent a
letter to Courbet warning him that many faux Courbets were being sold in Paris.31 He
blamed Courbet’s assistants for this, but it is more likely that crooked dealers affixed
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the master’s signature to canvases by the artist’s followers. In a letter to Castagnary

of March 1874, Courbet claims that the dealer Alexandre Bernheim was ‘filling Paris
with counterfeits of his paintings.’32 Meanwhile, professional forgers were also busy
producing Courbet landscapes and still lifes, for which there appears to have been an
insatiable market. In 16 June 1874, an article in La République française claimed that
a ‘factory’ of Courbet counterfeits had been established in Geneva.’33
It is clear that in this climate of uncertainty as to the authenticity of Courbet’s
works, it was imperative for Castagnary to organize an exhibition of works with a
solid provenance and, indeed, it appears that most of the works in the exhibition had
been acquired directly by their owners from Courbet. In the following eighty years or
so, most authors followed his example. Both Castagnary, in his unfinished biography,
and Riat focused on the works that Courbet had exhibited during his lifetime.
A more inclusive approach was taken by Alexandre Estignard, who in his 1896
Courbet. Sa vie, ses oeuvres was the first to attach to his summary biography of
Courbet a checklist of the artist’s works. Unlike Castagnary, Estignard lists the dated
works in chronological order, while undated works are listed by genre. He gives the

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110 Petra ten-Doesschate Chu
whereabouts of each work but not, in general, the exhibitions at which they have been
shown. Like Castagnary, Estignard, in the preface to his catalogue, talks about the
difficulty of putting it together:

To this detailed study of Courbet, we must add a catalogue of his works, so that
one can know him better. But how to put together a complete catalogue? If one
includes his sketches, the rapid studies done from nature, Courbet has produced
almost 900 works. The paintings exhibited at the Salons, those that enjoyed a
certain notoriety, are easy to find but many works unknown to the public are part
of private collections; many have been dispersed all over, in England, in Austria,
in Russia, in all of Europe and especially in America.34

Estignard, ultimately, came up with a list of about 400 paintings and a handful of
sculptures. For the next half century or more, few authors had the courage to attack
the problem of creating a complete catalogue of Courbet’s oeuvre. Théodore Duret, to
his 1918 monograph of Courbet, attached a list of paintings by Courbet in museums,
but it is short and not exhaustive.35 In the end, it was not until the late 1950s that a
local Franche-Comté artist and distant relative of Courbet, Robert Fernier, embarked
on the project of a definitive catalogue raisonné of Courbet’s work. Initially Fernier
cooperated with the art historian Gaston Delestre:36 the latter compiled a documenta-
tion, while Fernier travelled around to look at Courbet paintings in museums. The
project moved slowly, however, as Fernier took several painting trips to Africa, and
the relationship with Delestre deteriorated. Eventually, Delestre died before the proj-
ect was completed, and in the end Fernier published the catalogue raisonné under his
own name only.37
Fernier’s catalogue was his way of paying homage to Courbet. Courbet was his
hero, and much of his later life was devoted to the commemoration of the artist.38 If
Castagnary, focused on ‘purifying’ Courbet’s oeuvre, had been extremely disciplined,
even restrictive, in preparing the catalogue for his monographic exhibition in the École
des Beaux-Arts, Fernier, interested in a celebration of the artist’s work, was inclusive
in his catalogue raisonné. Though in his preface he thanks Castagnary ‘in particular’
for laying the groundwork for the catalogue raisonné,39 and though he started out
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in Castagnary’s spirit of exactitude, in his rush to get the catalogue out in time for
the centenary of the artist’s death, and for that matter his own (Fernier died in 1977,
exactly 100 years after Courbet), he cut some corners and ultimately produced a book
that lacked some of the rigor that Castagnary knew was important when dealing with
the oeuvre of Courbet. This in no way diminishes Fernier’s accomplishment. To this
day, the Fernier catalogue is the ‘go-to’ work for scholars of Courbet’s oeuvre.40

When Jules Castagnary organized the first monographic exhibition of Courbet after
the artist’s death in 1882, he realized it was a precarious undertaking. For many in
Paris, the memory of Courbet’s participation in the generally unpopular Commune
was still fresh, and Castagnary realized he had to focus on the art and underplay the
man. But focusing on Courbet’s art had its own problems, as there was a general
awareness of the dilution of the artist’s oeuvre by the large-scale studio manufac-
ture Courbet had directed himself, as well as by the production in different parts of

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The Courbet retrospective of 1882 111
Europe of outright forgeries of Courbet’s work. Both circumstances, in addition to
his untimely death, contributed to Castagnary’s failure to produce his planned mono-
graph of Courbet. More generally, they constitute an explanation for the unusually
long time it took for the first major Courbet monograph as well as the catalogue rai-
sonné of the artist’s work to appear.

1 Exposition des oeuvres de Gustave Courbet à l’École des Beaux-Arts (Paris, 1882). ). See
2 Exposition des oeuvres de M.G. Courbet: Rond-Point du Pont de l’Alma (Champs-Elysées).
A catalogue of the exhibition was published by Lebigre-Duquesne frères in Paris (1867). See
3 In December 1881, the French state had bought, at the posthumous auction of Courbet’s
work, Battle of the Stags, The Wounded Man, and The Man With the Leather Belt, now all
in the Musée d’Orsay, as well as The Mort of the Stag, which was deposited at the Musée
des Beaux-Arts et d’Archéologie in Besançon. The City of Paris had acquired Siesta at Hay-
making Time, now in the Musée du Petit Palais. Not included in the exhibition was The
Burial at Ornans, which Juliette Courbet had donated to the Louvre just before the Decem-
ber auction. According to Castagnary, some ‘rules’ prevented the painting from being lent
by the Louvre. The painting from the Musée du Luxembourg that was in the exhibition was
Stormy Sea (The Wave), now also in the Musée d’Orsay. See Exposition des oeuvres . . . à
l’École des Beaux-Arts, pp. 3–5.
4 Ibid., passim.
5 On Courbet’s involvement in the Commune, see Laurence des Cars, ed., Courbet et la Com-
mune, exhib. cat. (Paris: Musée d’Orsay, 2000). On Courbet and the Vendôme Column, see
Jane Mayo Roos, Early Impressionism and the French State, 1866–1874 (Cambridge, UK:
Cambridge University Press, 1996), ch. 9.
6 On Courbet’s exile in Switzerland, see Pierre Chessex, ed., Courbet et la Suisse, exhib.
cat. (La Tour-de-Peilz: Château, 1982) and Laurence Madeline, ed., Gustave Courbet: Les
Années suisses, exhib. cat. (Geneva: Musées d’art et d’histoire, 2014–15).
7 No complete history of the Vendôme Column exists, but the work is discussed in count-
less books and articles. See, among many others, Marie-Louis Biver, Le Paris de Napoléon
(Paris: Plon, 1963), pp. 162–175 (‘La Colonne de la Place Vendôme’).
8 Jules Théodore Cazot and Jean Antoine Constans, Projet de loi portant amnistie pour tous
les crimes et délits se rattachant aux insurrections de 1870 et 1871, ainsi que pour tous les
crimes et délits politiques commis jusqu’au 19 juin 1880 . . . présenté au nom de M. Jules
Copyright © 2018. Taylor & Francis Group. All rights reserved.

Grévy, . . . (Paris: Quantin, 1880).

9 Linda Nochlin, ‘The De-politicization of Gustave Courbet: Transformation and Rehabilita-
tion Under the Third Republic’, October, 22 (1982), 65–78.
10 No biography of Castagnary exists. This information is gleaned from various sources,
most importantlyBalteau, Jules, Michel Prévost, Jean-Charles Roman d’Amat, Jean-Pierre
Lobies, Roger Limozin-Lamothe, Henri Tribout de Morembert, Jean Pierre Lobies, Yves
Chinon, eds., Dictionnaire de biographie française (Paris: Letouzey et Ané, 1933–2016).
11 Catalogue de trente-trois tableaux et études par Gustave Courbet et dépendant de sa suc-
cession, Auction catalogue (Paris: Hôtel Drouot, 9 December 1881).
12 ‘. . . il n’y a eu pareille affluence pour une vente. Public houleux et impressionable, c’est
évidemment une manifestation pacifique que l’on veut faire en faveur de Courbet.’ Paul
Eudel, L’Hôtel Drouot en 1881 (Paris: Charpentier, 1882), p. 384.
13 Paul Eudel (ibid., p. 371) commented on Juliette Courbet’s gesture: ‘C’est venger, avec une
noblesse de caractère qui rappelle les plus beaux traits de l’histoire romaine, la mémoire de
son frère.’
14 Eugène Chéron, Album de l’exposition des oeuvres de Gustave Courbet à l’École des Beaux-Arts
(Paris, 1882). All photographs are reproduced at <*Auteurs/

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112 Petra ten-Doesschate Chu
15 Exposition des oeuvres, p. 6.
16 ‘L’existence de l’artiste! On me permettra de ne pas y faire allusion. Malgré l’apaisement des
esprits, le moment ne semble pas venue d’une véridique et impartiale biographie. Dans tous
les cas, ce n’est pas ici le lieu de l’essayer.’ Exposition des oeuvres, p. 6.
17 ‘Mais, à côté de l’homme, il y a les oeuvres qui ont aussi leur histoire.’ Ibid.
18 ‘Comment revoir, après tant d’années, les Casseurs de pierres, comment évoquer le souvenir
de l’Enterrement d’Ornans, sans se rappeler l’orage que cette peinture a soulevé à son appa-
rition, et le débordement d’injures qu’elle a values à son courageux initiateur? Comment, se
rappelant cet orage et ces injures, ne pas en demander la raison, ne pas chercher par suite de
quelle erreur ou de quel parti pris un art si juste et si puissant, qui s’annoncait par surcroît
comme si démocratique et si français, a pu susciter de telles colères et devenir une sorte de
scandale public?’ Ibid.
19 ‘. . . une sensibilité exquise et un métier incomparable.’ Ibid., p. 24.
20 Ibid., p. 25.
21 Jules Castagnary, ‘Fragments d’un livre sur Courbet’, Gazette des Beaux-Arts 53, pér. 4, 5
(January 1911), 4–20; pér. 4, 6 (December 1911), 488–497; and pér. 4, 7 (January 1912),
22 On Courbet’s will, see, among others, Gerstle Mack, Gustave Courbet (New York: Knopf,
1951), pp. 362–364.
23 To be sure, a number of short biographies of Courbet had appeared in the meantime. Most
of them were sketchy and anecdotal, like Henri-Amédée Lelorgne, Count d’ Ideville, Gus-
tave Courbet: Notes et documents sur sa vie et son œuvre (Paris: Librarie Parisienne, 1878)
and Camille Lemonnier, Camille. G. Courbet et son œuvre (Paris: A. Lemerre, 1868 [?]).
(According to its cover, the latter book was published in 1868, but the date must be a mis-
print: the publishing date was more likely 1878.) The only one that was more serous was
the biography by Alexandre Estignard. Courbet. sa vie, ses oeuvres (Besançon: Delagrange-
Louys, 1896) but at 130 pages, it was rather brief.
24 See Georges Riat, Gustave Courbet peintre (Paris: Floury, 1906), VI (preface by Paul Vitry).
According to Jean-Jacques Fernier, Juliette ‘sanitized’ the material to which she gave Riat
access. See Jean-Jacques Fernier, Jean-Luc Mayaud, and Patrick Le Nouëne, Courbet et
Ornans (Paris: Herscher, 1989), p. 33. The papers of Riat, which came from Jules Castag-
nary, Juliette Courbet, as well as the archivist Bernard Prost, are today in the Bibliothèque
Nationale de France in Paris. See Papiers de Courbet. Documents sur Gustave Courbet
réunis par Et. Moreau-Nelaton et Georges Riat, venus de Castagnary, Bernard Prost et la
famille Courbet, call number FRBNF40369074.
25 Oliver Larkin, ‘Courbet and His Contemporaries, 1848–1867’, Science & Society, 3, no. 1
(1939), 42.
26 Courbet’s presumed boorishness was highlighted in numerous caricatures that show him
Copyright © 2018. Taylor & Francis Group. All rights reserved.

in peasant dress and wooden shoes. See Charles Léger, Courbet selon les caricatures et les
images (Paris: Rosenberg, 1920), passim.
27 For a biography of Riat, see Riat, Gustave Courbet, I–VI
28 ‘Mêlé comme l’on sait, aux événements de 1871, . . . [Courbet] n’a pas connu [. . .] la gloire
des consécrations définitives, malgré des amitiés fidèles de Castagnary, malgré l’acquisition
de nombre de ses tableaux par le Musée du Louvre. Il est cependant entré aujourd’hui
dans l’histoire, et le livre que nous présentons ici pourra server à le juger historiquement en
plaine connaissance de cause.
29 ‘Nous nous sommes placés, pour la rédaction de ce catalogue, au point de vue de la plus
stricte exactitude. Nous avons relevé sur chaque tableau les désignations qu’il contient, et
nous les avons reproduites en indiquant leur place. [. . .] Nous avons mentionné les Salons
et les expositions particulières de l’auteur par où l’oeuvre a pu passer; c’est là une sorte
d’état civil que le temps constitute à chaque tableau, qui fait partie de sa renommée et
l’accompagne dans sa carrière.’ Exposition des oeuvres, 147.
30 Much of the information in this and the following paragraph is reprised from Petra ten-
Doesschate Chu, ‘Courbet, or Not Courbet, That Is the Question.’ IFAR Journal, 7, no. 1
(2004), 18–26.
31 Riat, Gustave Courbet, p. 344.

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The Courbet retrospective of 1882 113
32 ‘M. Bernheim, autre voleur, qui remplit Paris de contrafaçons de mes tableaux . . .’ Petra
ten-Doesschate Chu, ed., Correpondance de Courbet (Paris: Flammarion, 1996), p. 462
33 Ibid., p. 469.
34 ‘A cette étude détaillé sur Courbet, nous devons pour le mieux faire connaître, donner
le catalogue de ses oeuvres. Mais ce catalogue, comment le constituter complet? Si l’on
compte ses esquisses, ses études rapides peintes sur nature, Courbet a produit près de neuf
cent tableaux. Les peintures exposées aux Salons, celles qui eurent une notoriété, sont fac-
iles à retrouver, mais beaucoup de toiles ignorés du public font partie de collections privies;
il y en a qui ont été dispersés a tous les vents, en Angleterre, en Autriche, en Russie, dans
toute l’Europe et surtout en Amérique.’ Ibid., pp. 147–148.
35 Théodore Duret, Courbet (Paris: Bernheim-jeune et Cie, 1918).
36 At the time when they founded it in 1938, Fernier was president and Delestre secretary
general of the Société des amis de Gustave Courbet.
37 The two-volume catalogue, La Vie et l’oeuvre de Gustave Courbet was published under
the auspices of the Fondation Wildenstein. The first volume appeared in 1977, the year of
Robert Fernier’s death, the second in 1978.
38 Fernier was not only the co-founder of the Société des amis de Gustave Courbet but also
one of the moving forces behind the creation of a Courbet museum in the house in Ornans
where Courbet was born (1971). His painting Hommage à Gustave Courbet of c. 1954,
today in the Musée Courbet in Ornans, was inspired by Courbet’s The Meeting (Montpel-
lier: Musée Fabre).
39 ‘Des amis connus et inconnus [. . .] m’ont aidé dans ma tâche; sans eux mon entreprise
courait à un nouvel échec, puisque la mort avait fauché ceux qui s’étaient déjà attachés a
server la mémoire de Courbet, en particulier Castagnary, Riat, Charles Léger et en dernier
lieu Gaston Delestre.’ Fernier, La Vie et l’oeuvre, V
40 An attempt by Sarah Faunce in the first decade of the twenty-first century to create a new
catalogue raisonné of Courbet’s work has unfortunately not come to fruition, and neither
has a contemporaneous attempt by architect Jean-Jacques Fernier, the son of Robert, to
create a supplement to his father’s catalogue.
Copyright © 2018. Taylor & Francis Group. All rights reserved.

Gahtan, Maia Wellington, and Pegazzano, Donatella, eds. Monographic Exhibitions and the History of Art. Milton: Taylor & Francis Group, 2018.
Accessed May 23, 2020. ProQuest Ebook Central.
Created from pitt-ebooks on 2020-05-23 16:48:52.