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Young Ladies of the Village

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

Date:
1851–52
Medium:
Oil on canvas
Dimensions:
76 3/4 x 102 3/4 in. (194.9 x 261 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Gift of Harry Payne Bingham, 1940
Accession Number:
40.175
  • Gallery Label

    This painting, which initiated a series of pictures devoted to the lives of women, shows Courbet’s three sisters—Zélie, Juliette, and Zoé—strolling in the Communal, a small valley near his native village of Ornans. One of the girls offers alms to a young cowherd. Courbet had high hopes for the work, but when it was exhibited at the Salon of 1852, critics attacked it as tasteless and clumsy. They reviled the models’ common features and countrified costumes, the "ridiculous" little dog and cattle, and the overall lack of unity, including traditional perspective and scale.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Signed (lower left): G. Courbet.

  • Provenance

    Charles-Auguste-Louis-Joseph Demorny, called comte de Morny, later duc de Morny, Paris (1852–d. 1865); his widow, Sophie Troubetskoi, duchesse de Morny, Château de Nades, Allier (1865–78; sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, March 29, 1878, no. 17, as "Les demoiselles de village," for Fr 5,000); Thomas Wigglesworth, Boston (by 1879–at least 1888); [Julius Oehme, New York, until 1901; sold in May to Durand-Ruel]; [Durand-Ruel, New York, from 1901]; [Durand-Ruel, Paris, until 1906; sold in June to Hébrard]; [A. A. Hébrard, Paris, from 1906]; Colonel Oliver H. Payne, New York (1909–d. 1917); his nephew, Harry Payne Bingham, New York (1917–40)

  • Exhibition History

    Paris. Salon. April 1–?, 1852, no. 292 (as "Les demoiselles de village," lent by M. le comte de Morny).

    Paris. Palais des Beaux-Arts. "Exposition universelle de 1855," May 15–?, 1855, no. 2802 (as "Les demoiselles de village," lent by M. comte de Morny).

    Paris. Galerie Martinet. "Première exposition des sociétaires fondateurs de la Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts," June 15–?, 1862, no catalogue? (possibly this picture) [see Courrier Artistique 1862].

    Paris. Rond-Point du Pont de l'Alma. "Exposition des œuvres de M. G. Courbet," April 30–November 1867, no. 7 (lent by the duchesse de Morny).

    Boston Art Club. "First Exhibition for 1879," January 15–February 8, 1879, no. 103.

    St. Louis. World's Fair. "Universal Exposition," April 30–December 1, 1904, no. 26 (as "Les Demoiselles du Village, lent by Durand-Ruel & Son, New York).

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Loan Exhibition of the Works of Gustave Courbet," April 7–May 18, 1919, no. 4 (as "The Village Girls [Les Demoiselles de Village]," lent by Mrs. Harry Payne Bingham).

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Taste of Today in Masterpieces of Painting before 1900," July 10–October 2, 1932, no catalogue (lent by Harry Payne Bingham).

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Landscape Paintings," May 14–September 30, 1934, no. 42 (lent by Harry Payne Bingham).

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "French Painting from David to Toulouse-Lautrec," February 6–March 26, 1941, no. 18.

    New York. Wildenstein & Co., Inc.. "A Loan Exhibition of Gustave Courbet," December 2, 1948–January 8, 1949, no. 5.

    Philadelphia Museum of Art. "Gustave Courbet, 1819–1877," December 17, 1959–February 14, 1960, no. 16.

    Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. "Gustave Courbet, 1819–1877," February 26–April 14, 1960, no. 16.

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of Fifty Centuries," November 15, 1970–February 15, 1971, no. 367.

    Brooklyn Museum. "Courbet Reconsidered," November 4, 1988–January 16, 1989, no. 14.

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Gustave Courbet," February 27–May 18, 2008, no. 44 (as "Young Ladies of the Village").

  • References

    Gustave Courbet. Letter to the editor of "Le messager de l'assemblée". November 19, 1851 [English transl. published in P. D. Chu, ed., "Letters of Gustave Courbet," Chicago, 1992, no. 51-3, p. 103], mentions that he has begun working on this painting.

    Bertall. "Couleur du Salon de 1852, ou le salon dépeint et dessiné." Le Journal pour rire (April 16, 1852), ill. p. 1 (caricature), states that this picture supposedly sold to M. de Morny for Fr 5,000.

    L[ouis]. Clément de Ris. "Salon de 1852." L'Artiste, 5e sér., 8 (1852), pp. 99–100, calls it one of Courbet's finest paintings.

    Gustave Courbet. Letter to his family. [June 15, 1852] [English transl. published in P. D. Chu, ed., "Letters of Gustave Courbet," Chicago, 1992, no. 52-3, pp. 106–7], remarks upon the Salon criticism of this painting.

    Gustave Courbet. Letter to Champfleury. [January? 1852] [English transl. published in P. D. Chu, ed., "Letters of Gustave Courbet," Chicago, 1992, no. 52-2, p. 106], in reference to this picture in the upcoming Salon, declares "I have misled my judges, I have put them on to new terrain: I have made something graceful".

    Louis Enault. Le Salon de 1852. Paris, 1852, pp. 47–50, praises the landscape but criticizes the figures.

    Théophile Gautier. "Salon de 1852 (1e article)." La Presse (May 11, 1852), p. 2, criticizes the figures and comparative size of the cows, calling the latter fit for "un parc de Lilliput".

    M. Giram. Examen critique des principaux ouvrages en peinture et en sculpture de l'exposition 1852. Paris, 1852, pp. 43–44, criticizes the figures as "trivial, commun, vicieux".

    Alph[onse]. Grün. Salon de 1852. Paris, 1852, pp. 91–93 [also published in "Le Moniteur Universel," June 20, 1852, p. 933], calls the landscape attractive but the figures vulgar and ugly; criticizes the diminutive size of the cows.

    Eugène Loudun. Le salon de 1852. Paris, 1852, pp. 8–9, calls it "Demoiselles de campagnes"; finds it ugly and displeasing.

    Gustave Planche. "La Peinture et la sculpture au Salon de 1852." Revue des deux mondes 14, 2nd tri. (May 15, 1852), pp. 670–72.

    Claude Vignon. Salon de 1852. Paris, 1852, pp. 101–3, defends this picture but notes the incorrect scale of the cows.

    Gustave Courbet. Letter to comte de Morny. [May 13, 1853] [English transl. published in P. D. Chu, ed., "Letters of Gustave Courbet," Chicago, 1992, no. 53-2, p. 111], requests permission to reproduce a photograph and wood engraving of this in Théophile Silvestre's book "Les Artistes vivants".

    Gustave Courbet. Letter to his family. [May 13, 1853] [English transl. published in P. D. Chu, ed., "Letters of Gustave Courbet," Chicago, 1992, no. 53-3, pp. 111–12], states that the comte de Morny lent the frame of this work for the exhibition of "The Wrestlers" (Szépmüvészeti Muzeum, Budapest; F144) in the Salon of 1853.

    Gustave Courbet. Letter to Francis Wey. [December 22(?), 1853] [English transl. published in P. D. Chu, ed., "Letters of Gustave Courbet," Chicago, 1992, no. 53-7, p. 119], notes that he has started a painting intended as a continuation of this one ["Grainsifters"; Musée des Beaux-Arts, Nantes; F166].

    Nadar [Félix Tournachon]. Nadar jury au Salon de 1853, album comique de 60 à 80 dessins coloriés; compte rendu d'environ 6 à 800 tableaux, sculptures, etc. Paris, 1853, unpaginated [reprinted in Ref. Herding 1991], calls it a work of little significance.

    Gustave Courbet. Letter to Champfleury. [November–December 1854] [English transl. published in P. D. Chu, ed., "Letters of Gustave Courbet," Chicago, 1992, no. 54-8, p. 133], mentions it and "Grainsifters" (Nantes; F166) as part of a series on country life.

    Edmond About. Voyage à travers l'exposition des beaux-arts. Paris, 1855, p. 204, calls it an excellent landscape spoiled by figures that are out of perspective.

    Champfleury. "Du réalisme: lettre à Madame Sand." L'Artiste, 5e sér., 16 (September 2, 1855), pp. 3–4, dates it 1851; calls this picture the second scandal in Courbet's career; defends the artist against his critics.

    Gustave Courbet. Letter to Louis Français. [February? 1855] [English transl. published in P. D. Chu, ed., "Letters of Gustave Courbet," Chicago, 1992, no. 55-1, p. 135], calls "Grainsifters" (Nantes; F166) a sequel to this painting.

    Ernest Gebaüer. Les beaux-arts à l'exposition universelle de 1855. Paris, 1855, p. 130, describes it as a scene of "verité sans charme".

    A. J. du Pays. "Exposition universelle des beaux-arts." L'Illustration (July 28, 1855), p. 72.

    Gustave Courbet. Letter to Ernest L'Epine. [January or February? 1856] [English transl. published in P. D. Chu, ed., "Letters of Gustave Courbet," Chicago, 1992, no. 56-2, p. 148], states that the comte de Morny still owes Fr 500 for the purchase of this work four years earlier.

    Anatole de la Forge. La Peinture contemporaine en France. Paris, 1856, pp. 259, 273–77, regards the young women as country dwellers foolishly adopting urban dress and manners.

    Théophile Silvestre. Histoire des artistes vivants: Français et étrangers. Paris, 1856, pp. 261, 270, 278–79.

    "Société nationale des beaux-arts." Le Courrier artistique 2 (June 15, 1862), p. 2, lists a picture of this title among those marked for sale in an exhibition at the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts [Exh. Paris 1862].

    Gustave Courbet. Letter to Jules Castagnary. [April] 21, [1867] [English transl. published in P. D. Chu, ed., "Letters of Gustave Courbet," Chicago, 1992, no. 67-9, p. 309], mentions his plan to request the loan of this painting from Mme de Morny for his private exhibition of that year.

    Fortuné Marion. Letter to Heinrich Morstatt. 1867 [excerpt published in English transl. in Ref. Barr 1938, p. 224], mentions seeing this work in Courbet's 1867 exhibition, calling it "the best that has been done to this day in painting".

    L. Petit. "G. Courbet." Le Hanneton (June 13, 1867) [reprinted in Ref. Léger 1920], copies this and several other works in a caricature.

    Champfleury. Souvenirs et portraits de jeunesse. Paris, 1872, p. 176, calls it an admirable landscape misunderstood by the critics; quotes from Courbet's letter to him of January 1852 [Ref. Courbet 1852].

    Gustave Courbet. Letter to Jules Castagnary. [April 9, 1876] [English transl. published in P. D. Chu, ed., "Letters of Gustave Courbet," Chicago, 1992, no. 76-12, p. 574], reports that he authorized his attorney to deliver this picture to Mme de Morny [from whom he borrowed it for exhibition in 1867]; describes it as completely ruined and suggests that it be relined.

    Gustave Courbet. Letter to Jules Castagnary. March 1, 1877 [English transl. published in P. D. Chu, ed., "Letters of Gustave Courbet," Chicago, 1992, no. 77-10, p. 604], erroneously states that it was purchased by Étienne Baudry [confuses it with "Young Ladies on the Banks of the Seine"; 1856–57; Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris, Petit Palais, Paris; F203].

    "Mouvement des arts: Un tableau de Courbet." Chronique des arts et de la curiosité, supplément à la Gazette des beaux-arts (April 6, 1878), p. 106, notes that this picture recently sold for Fr 5,000 at the Hôtel Drouot, from the Morny collection; states that it needs relining due to damage from humidity when the painting was kept in a country house.

    comte H. d' Ideville. Gustave Courbet. Paris, 1878, pp. 46, 51, 106, 119, ill. opp. p. 96 (etching by A.-P Martial).

    Paul Mantz. "Gustave Courbet." Gazette des beaux-arts, 2nd ser., 17 (June 1878), p. 524.

    The Art Treasures of America. reprint, 1977. New York, 1879, vol. 2, pp. 90–91, ill. (reproduction of a sketch, in reverse), as in the collection of Thomas Wigglesworth, Boston; notes that it is currently on exhibition at the [Boston] Art Club.

    [Jules] Castagnary in Exposition des oeuvres de Gustave Courbet. Exh. cat., École des Beaux-Arts. Paris, 1882, p. 14, calls it "Demoiselles de village faisant l'aumône à une gardeuse de vaches" and dates it 1852.

    Joséphin Péladan. "Etudes esthetiques de decadence: Gustave Courbet." L'Artiste 2 (December 1884), p. 409.

    William Howe Downes. "Boston Painters and Paintings." Atlantic Monthly 62 (October 1888), p. 504, as in the collection of Thomas Wigglesworth.

    Alexandre Estignard. Courbet: sa vie, ses oeuvres. Besançon, 1896, pp. 31–32, 77, 155, as "Les Demoiselles de village faisant l'aumône à une gardienne de vaches".

    Julius Meier-Graefe. Corot und Courbet: Ein Beitrag zur Entwicklungsgeschichte der Modernen Malerei. Leipzig, 1905, p. 157, ill. p. 149, states that this landscape is the same as that in "Burial at Ornans" (Musée d'Orsay, Paris; F91).

    Georges Gazier. Gustave Courbet: L'homme et l'oeuvre. Besançon, 1906, p. 25, calls critics of this picture unjust, commenting that in it, Courbet wished to show that he could paint beauty and grace.

    Gustave Geffroy. "Gustave Courbet." L'Art et les artistes 4 (October 1906), p. 260, ill. p. 257, observes that this work represents "la gráce et le charme de la vie provinciale".

    Georges Riat. Gustave Courbet peintre. Paris, 1906, pp. 3, 83, 95–98, 119, 127–28, 146, 158, 252, 298, 368, ill. opp. p. 96, identifies the figures as Courbet's three sisters, and notes that the comte de Morny bought the work before its exhibition at the 1852 Salon.

    Maurice Robin. "Gustave Courbet." Portraits d'hier no. 11 (August 15, 1909), pp. 342–43.

    [Jules] Castagnary. "Fragments d'un livre sur Courbet (deuxième article)." Gazette des beaux-arts 6 (September 1911), ill. p. 497, as "Demoiselles de village faisant l'aumône à une gardeuse de vaches," 1852.

    Léonce Bénédite. Courbet. Paris, [1912], pp. 41–42, pl. XIII, considers past criticism of this picture too harsh.

    Julius Meier-Graefe. Corot und Courbet. 2nd ed. Munich, 1912, ill. opp. p. 148, 158, dates it 1851.

    Théodore Duret. Courbet. Paris, 1918, pp. 35–36, 42, 137, 141, pl. XI, praises the landscape.

    Loan Exhibition of the Works of Gustave Courbet. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1919, p. 4, no. 4, dates it about 1850 and erroneously states that it was in the Salon of 1851.

    Charles Léger. Courbet selon les caricatures et les images. Paris, 1920, pp. 19, 66, reproduces caricatures of this picture by Bertall [Ref. 1852] and Petit [Ref. 1867].

    André Fontainas. Courbet. Paris, 1921, pp. 27–29, 36, 66, pl. 5, dates it 1850.

    Julius Meier-Graefe. Courbet. Munich, 1921, pp. 28–29, pl. 16, dates it 1851; reproduces as pl. 48 a drawing by Courbet after the painting, signed and dated 1864.

    Charles Léger. Courbet. Paris, 1925, pp. 47–48, 54, 65, 99, calls it "Les demoiselles de village faisant l'aumône à une gardeuse de vaches dans un vallon d'Ornans".

    George Sakier. "La Peinture française du XIXe siècle au 'Metropolitan Museum of Art' de New-York." L'Amour de l'art 7 (June 1926), pp. 202–3, ill.

    Gustave Kahn. "Courbet." L'Art et les artistes, n.s., 15 (October 1927), p. 20, ill. p. 3.

    Charles Léger. "Courbet, peintre de la vie provinciale au XIXe siècle." Franche-Comté, Monts-Jura et Haute-Alsace 9 (December 1927), p. 247.

    Charles Léger. Courbet. Paris, 1929, pp. 52, 59, 124, 197.

    Pierre Courthion. Courbet. Paris, 1931, pls. XIX, XX, XXI (overall and details), dates it 1851.

    R. H. Wile[n]ski. French Painting. Boston, 1931, p. 224, mentions another version in the collection of Charles Roberts, Leeds.

    Bryson Burroughs. Landscape Paintings. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1934, pp. 19–20, no. 42, calls it "a notable early experiment in realism," noting that the figures were painted in the studio and the landscape copied from a sketch; erroneously states that it was exhibited in 1850.

    Félix Gaiffe in Puissance du paysage comtois. Pontarlier, 1934 [reprinted in "Les Amis de Gustave Courbet," Bulletin no. 11, 1952, p. 8].

    Alfred H. Barr Jr. "Cézanne: In the Letters of Marion to Morstatt, 1865–8. Chapter II." Magazine of Art 31 (April 1938), p. 224, fig. 11.

    Harry B. Wehle. "'Les demoiselles de village' by Courbet." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 36 (February 1941), pp. 38–40, ill., dates it 1851; identifies the young ladies from left to right as Courbet's sisters Zélie, Juliette, and Zoé.

    Hans Naef. Courbet. Bern, 1947, pl. 13, dates it 1851.

    René-Jean. "En suivant les traces de Gustave Courbet." Le Monde (August 5, 1947) [reprinted in "Les Amis de Gustave Courbet," no. 2, 1947, p. 47], remarks that the grouping of the young women recalls the classical pose of the Three Graces.

    Lionello Venturi. Modern Painters. 1, New York, 1947, p. 212, fig. 143, notes that the contours of the figures recall popular prints.

    Charles Léger. Courbet et son temps (Lettres et documents inédits). Paris, 1948, pp. 46–47, 49, 56, 59, 197, fig. 13.

    V. Visson and Daniel Wildenstein. A Loan Exhibition of Gustave Courbet. Exh. cat., Wildenstein & Co., Inc. New York, 1948, pp. 16, 34, 41, no. 5, ill. p. 10, suggest the influence of Dutch painting and Le Nains in the placement of the figures in a landscape.

    Marie Luise Kaschnitz. Die Wahrheit, nicht der Traum: Das Leben des Malers Courbet. Leipzig, 1949, p. 86.

    Lionello Venturi. Impressionists and Symbolists. 2, New York, 1950, p. 99, suggests that Renoir's portrait "Lise" (1867; Museum Folkwang, Essen) was inspired by the central figure in this picture.

    Gerstle Mack. Gustave Courbet. New York, 1951, pp. 82–84, 133, 144, 219, pl. 20, calls "Young Women on the Banks of the Seine" (F203; Musée du Petit Palais, Paris) a "pendant or sequel" to this work.

    Joseph C. Sloane. French Painting Between the Past and the Present: Artists, Critics, and Traditions, from 1848 to 1870. [reprint 1973]. Princeton, 1951, pp. xi, 102 n. 10, pp. 119, 151 n. 6, pp. 152, 155–56, fig. 29, attributes the disjunction in scale between the figures and the landscape to Courbet's lack of "imagination and synthetic ability".

    "Les Demoiselles de village." Les Amis de Gustave Courbet no. 11 (1952), pp. 7–9, ill. on front cover, reprints Refs. Gaiffe 1934 and Loudun 1852.

    Marcel Zahar. Courbet. Geneva, 1952, pp. 39–40, notes it was one of the comte de Morny's favorite paintings.

    Jean Leymarie. Impressionism. Lausanne, 1955, vol. 1, p. 49, ill. p. 41 (color detail), compares it to Renoir's "Lise" (1867; Essen), noting that our picture was exhibited the same year that Renoir executed his painting [see Ref. Venturi 1950].

    A. Hyatt Mayor. "The Gifts that Made the Museum." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 16 (November 1957), p. 106.

    Douglas Cooper. "Courbet in Philadelphia and Boston." Burlington Magazine 102 (June 1960), p. 244, comments that structural logic was lost in the adaptation from the preparatory study (Leeds City Art Gallery; F126).

    Louisine W. Havemeyer. Sixteen to Sixty: Memoirs of a Collector. New York, 1961, p. 198.

    A. Tabarant. La Vie artistique au temps de Baudelaire. 2nd ed. (1st ed. 1942). [Paris], 1963, pp. 182, 186–87, 217, 416.

    "Courbet et son temps." Les Amis de Gustave Courbet bulletin no. 35 (1966), p. 5 [reprints Refs. Enault 1852, Zahar 1952, and Fernier 1966].

    Robert Fernier. En voyage avec Courbet. Paris, 1966, pp. 4, 33, ill.

    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. 106–9, ill., propose that this picture was painted during the winter of 1851–52, noting that the composition is based on several earlier studies.

    Georges Boudaille. Gustave Courbet: Painter in Protest. Greenwich, Conn., 1969, pp. 35, 49–50, 52 ill., calls it "The Young Ladies from the Village Giving Alms to a Cow-Girl"; believes that it was most likely completed before Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte's coup of December 2, 1851.

    Robert Fernier. Gustave Courbet: Peintre de l'art vivant. Paris, 1969, pp. 50, 60, fig. 40, cites it as an example of Courbet as a history painter.

    Hélène Toussaint in Gustave Courbet (1819–1877). Exh. cat., Villa Medici. Rome, 1969, pp. XXVIII–XXIX, 16, 18.

    Denys Sutton. "A Long Affair." Apollo 91 (January 1970), p. 6, states mistakenly that Wigglesworth acquired this work during the 1860s.

    André Fermigier. Courbet. Geneva, 1971, pp. 16, 45, 49.

    Linda Nochlin. "Gustave Courbet's 'Toilette de la mariée'." Art Quarterly 34, no. 1 (1971), pp. 47, 53 n. 55 [reprinted in Ref. Nochlin 2007, pp. 78, 213 n. 55].

    Janine Bailly-Herzberg. L'eau-forte de peintre au dix-neuvième siècle: La Société des Aquafortistes, 1862–1867. Paris, 1972, vol. 1, p. 219, no. 242, p. 234, ill. (etching), dates the etching after this painting to September 1866, adding that although the etching is signed by Courbet, it cannot be determined whether it was executed by Courbet or Bracquemond.

    Alan Bowness in "Courbet's Early Subject-Matter." French 19th Century Painting and Literature. New York, [1972], p. 130, considers it "more autobiographical than socio-political in intention".

    Kermit Swiler Champa. Studies in Early Impressionism. New Haven, 1973, p. 74, fig. 104, notes its possible influence on Pissarro's "Donkey Ride at La Roche-Guyon" (about 1865; collection Tim Rice, London) [see Refs. Lloyd and Distel 1980, Lloyd 1984].

    T. J. Clark. Image of the People: Gustave Courbet and the Second French Republic, 1848–1851. Greenwich, Conn., [1973], pp. 78, 114, 133, fig. 37, calls it "Young Ladies of the Village, giving Alms to a Cowherd"; notes that it is one of the first paintings by the artist to show figures in a landscape.

    Jack Lindsay. Gustave Courbet: His Life and Art. New York, 1973, pp. 85, 91–92, 94, 102, 104, 111, 135, 149, 152, 222, 319, 322, asserts that it must have been painted between November 1851 and February 1852; suggests that in it Courbet wished to reaffirm his family relationships.

    Benedict Nicolson. Courbet: The Studio of the Painter. New York, [1973], pp. 63–64.

    Robert H. Getscher. Félix Bracquemond and the Etching Process. Exh. cat., College of Wooster Art Center Museum. Wooster, Ohio, 1974, pp. 42–43, fig. 36, dates the etching 1866, asserting that it is by Bracquemond and only signed by Courbet.

    Lydie Huyghe in René Huyghe. La Relève de l'imaginaire. La Peinture française au XIXe siècle: Réalisme, romantisme. Paris, 1976, p. 441.

    René Huyghe. La Relève de l'imaginaire. La Peinture française au XIXe siècle: Réalisme, romantisme. Paris, 1976, pp. 413, 426.

    Linda Nochlin New York University. The Development and Nature of Realism in the Work of Gustave Courbet: A Study of the Style and its Social and Artistic Background. New York, 1976, pp. 178–85, fig. 98, calls it "Village Maidens Giving Alms to a Guardian of Cattle"; argues that the inconsistencies of the composition resulted from Courbet's intentionally equal emphasis on each separate element.

    Robert Fernier. "Peintures, 1819–1865." La vie et l'oeuvre de Gustave Courbet. 1, Lausanne, 1977, pp. 68, 76, 78–79, no. 127, ill., calls it "Les demoiselles de village" and dates it 1851.

    Bruno Foucart. G. Courbet. Naefels, Switzerland, 1977, pp. 19, 21, refers to the critical response to this picture in the 1852 Salon as "an absurd and paradoxical opposition".

    Alan Bowness in Gustave Courbet, 1819–1877. Exh. cat., Grand Palais, Paris. London, 1978, pp. 12, 16 [French ed., 1977], calls it "Young Ladies of the Village Giving Alms to a Cow Girl in a Valley at Ornans".

    Marie-Thérèse de Forges in Gustave Courbet (1819–1877). Exh. cat., Grand Palais, Paris. London, 1978, pp. 29, 31, 43 [French ed. 1977, pp. 29, 31, 44].

    Hélène Toussaint in Gustave Courbet, 1819–1877. Exh. cat., Grand Palais, Paris. London, 1978, pp. 100–102, 108–9, 112, 120, 125, 176, 255, 278, no. 27, ill. [French ed. ,1977, pp. 114–15, 120, 134, 195, 247, ill.], mentions a satirical comedy produced in 1852 featuring a "realist" painter exhibiting a grotesque caricature of this picture; notes that the tree in the middle of the Leeds City Art Gallery sketch was painted out of the final version, though its outline can still be seen; observes that the narrative theme becomes more important in the MMA version; compares it to "The Meeting" (Musée Fabre, Montpellier; F149).

    Diane Lesko. "From Genre to Allegory in Gustave Courbet's 'Les demoiselles de village'." Art Journal 38 (Spring 1979), pp. 171–77, figs. 1, 5 (overall and detail), proposes that Courbet intended this picture as a representation of universal charity and thus a resolution to the conflicts between peasantry and bourgeoisie then destroying French society; considers it an integral link in Courbet's "chain of contemporary history paintings"; suggests Rubens's "Education of Marie de Médicis" (Musée du Louvre, Paris), and Watteau's "The Fortuneteller" as sources for the figures; argues that Courbet chose the word "demoiselle" in the title "as a specific historical reference to class conflict".

    Patricia Mainardi. "Gustave Courbet's Second Scandal: 'Les demoiselles de village'." Arts Magazine 53 (January 1979), pp. 95–103, fig. 1, discusses the unfashionableness of the young ladies' dresses and interprets the criticism of this picture as linked to social anxieties over the rising rural bourgeoisie.

    Alexandra R. Murphy in Corot to Braque: French Paintings from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Boston, 1979, pp. xx, xxxix.

    Christopher Lloyd and Anne Distel in Pissarro. Exh. cat., Hayward Gallery. London, 1980, p. 73, compare it to Pissarro's "Donkey Ride at La Roche-Guyon" (collection Tim Rice) [see Refs. Champa 1973, Lloyd 1984].

    James Henry Rubin. Realism and Social Vision in Courbet & Proudhon. Princeton, 1980, pp. 69, 153 n. 14, p. 162 n. 44, fig. 11, claims that the act of charity depicted here "surely alluded to the rural tradition of communal sharing on which Proudhon founded aspects of his anarchism".

    Richard R. Brettell and Caroline B. Brettell. Painters and Peasants in the Nineteenth Century. Geneva, 1983, p. 126, ill., call it "Young Ladies of the Village Giving Alms to a Cow-Girl in a Valley near Ornans" and date it 1851.

    Denise Delouche. "Le Tableau et sa caricature: les oeuvres de Courbet vues par les caricaturistes." L'Image par l'image. Rennes, 1983, unpaginated, ill.

    Christopher Lloyd in Retrospective Camille Pissarro. Exh. cat., Isetan Museum of Art. [Tokyo], 1984, p. 127, under no. 6, argues that when this picture was on view at the Exposition Universelle in 1855 it may have inspired Pissarro's "Donkey Ride at La Roche-Guyon" (collection Tim Rice) [see Refs. Champa 1973, Lloyd and Distel 1980].

    Pierre Courthion. L'opera completa di Courbet. Milan, 1985, p. 79, no. 121, ill., and colorpl. IX.

    Antje Zimmermann. "Studien zum Figurenbild bei Corot." PhD diss., Universität Köln, 1986, p. 254 n. 72.

    Rae Becker in Sarah Faunce and Linda Nochlin. Courbet Reconsidered. Exh. cat., Brooklyn Museum. Brooklyn, 1988, pp. 104, 106–9, 214, no. 14, ill. (color), compares it with the Leeds City Art Gallery version and with other studies; calls it "an iconographically complex work fashioned on the conventions of normally picturesque rural imagery and transformed into a direct and unembellished portrait of shifting caste systems in the countryside with the full measure of their troubling implications for all of French society"

    .

    Ann Dumas in Sarah Faunce and Linda Nochlin. Courbet Reconsidered. Exh. cat., Brooklyn Museum. Brooklyn, 1988, pp. 133–34.

    Douglas E. Edelson et al. in Courbet Reconsidered. Exh. cat., Brooklyn Museum. Brooklyn, 1988, pp. 66, 69–70, 84, 232 n. 32, ill. (detail).

    Sarah Faunce and Linda Nochlin. Courbet Reconsidered. Exh. cat., Brooklyn Museum. Brooklyn, 1988, pp. 9–10.

    Jack Flam. "The Man Who Made Stones Think." Art News 87 (December 1988), pp. 114, 117, ill., comments that "what seems to be a simple meeting is fraught with issues of class, charity, snobbery, and rural economics".

    Klaus Herding. "Brooklyn and Minneapolis: Courbet Reconsidered." Burlington Magazine 132 (March 1989), pp. 244–45, posits that the Leeds version was not a preliminary sketch, but rather was painted after the MMA picture in an attempt to modify the composition in response to the harsh comments of the critics.

    Mahonri Sharp Young. "Letter from the U.S.A: Bonjour Monsieur Courbet." Apollo 129 (April 1989), p. 285, fig. 2.

    Richard R. Brettell with Joachim Pissarro. Pissarro and Pontoise: The Painter in a Landscape. New Haven, 1990, pp. 126–27, fig. 120.

    Michael Fried. Courbet's Realism. Chicago, 1990, pp. 236, 344 n. 47, p. 351 n. 38, fig. 114.

    Klaus Herding. Courbet: To Venture Independence. New Haven, 1991, pp. 115–17, 159–60, 194, 243 n. 39, p. 249 n. 15, ill. (caricature, Ref. Bertall 1852), suggests that the figures appear immobile in part because of the uniform, neutralizing color.

    Patricia Mainardi. "Courbet's Exhibitionism." Gazette des beaux-arts, 6th ser., 118 (December 1991), p. 261, fig. 9.

    Gustave Courbet. Letters of Gustave Courbet. Chicago, 1992, p. 109 n. 1, p. 112 n. 8, p. 128 letter 54-6, fig. 14, records an edition of Silvestre [Ref. 1856] illustrated with a photograph of this painting (copy in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris); identifies this picture in a list of works to be included in the 1855 Exposition Universelle sent by Courbet to the comte de Nieuwerkerke in November 1854.

    Sarah Faunce. Gustave Courbet. New York, 1993, pp. 21–22, 25, 30, 66–67, no. 10, ill. (color), calls this the first painting in Courbet's series on local life in which the landscape and figures are treated equally.

    Louisine W. Havemeyer. Sixteen to Sixty: Memoirs of a Collector. 3rd ed. [1st ed. 1930, repr. 1961]. New York, 1993, pp. 198, 331 n. 283.

    Susan Alyson Stein in Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, p. 250, ill. p. 275 (installation photograph from Exh. New York 1919), states that the picture was shipped to Payne from France in early September 1909, and arrived in New York on October 13.

    Michael Kimmelman. "At the Met with Elizabeth Murray: Looking for the Magic in Painting." New York Times (October 21, 1994), p. C28, quotes Murray's remark that Courbet makes you admire the ordinary women in this painting "because he puts this incredible light on them".

    Gary Tinterow in Gary Tinterow and Henri Loyrette. Origins of Impressionism. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1994, pp. 126–28, 447, fig. 164 [French ed., "Impressionnisme: les origines, 1859–1869," Paris, 1994], identifies the setting as the valley of the Communal beneath the Roche de Dix Heures, Ornans.

    Stéphane Guégan Michèle Haddard. L'ABCdaire de Courbet et le réalisme. Paris, 1996, pp. 7, 16–18, 53, 55–56, 73, 78, ill. (overall and detail in color), dates it 1851.

    James H. Rubin. Courbet. London, 1997, pp. 102–5, 108, 121, 185, 253, colorpl. 66, comments that this painting could be viewed as a pendant to "The Stonebreakers" (F101, destroyed) given its theme of charity and prosperity.

    Laurence des Cars in La nascita dell'impressionismo. Exh. cat., Casa dei Carraresi, Treviso. Conegliano, Italy, 2000, p. 72, ill., dates it 1851.

    Valérie Bajou. Courbet. Paris, 2003, pp. 81–85, 94–96, 127, 166, 221, 230, 301, 312, 362, 406 nn. 89–90, 96, ill. (color).

    Richard R. Brettell and Stephen F. Eisenman. Nineteenth-Century Art in the Norton Simon Museum. 1, New Haven, 2006, p. 181, fig. 45e, date it 1851.

    Ross King. The Judgment of Paris: The Revolutionary Decade That Gave the World Impressionism. New York, 2006, pp. 114–15, as "Young Ladies of the Village Giving Alms to a Cow Girl".

    Christopher Lloyd in Katherine Rothkopf. Pissarro: Creating the Impressionist Landscape. Exh. cat., Baltimore Museum of Art. London, 2006, p. 40 n. 19.

    Mary Morton in Mary Morton and Charlotte Eyerman. Courbet and the Modern Landscape. Exh. cat., J. Paul Getty Museum. Los Angeles, 2006, pp. 1, 17 n. 9.

    Petra ten-Doesschate Chu. The Most Arrogant Man in France: Gustave Courbet and the Nineteenth-Century Media Culture. Princeton, 2007, pp. 87, 89–91, 119–21, 137, 140, 197 n. 65, p. 198 n. 88, p. 205 n. 30, p. 210 n. 6, fig. 66 (color), calls it "The Young Ladies of the Village Giving Alms to a Cowherdess in a Valley near Ornans" and dates it 1851; comments on its ironic "mockery of Parisian women and, in another inversion, of the Parisian men who are snared by their charms".

    Michèle Haddad. Gustave Courbet: Peinture et histoire. Sainte-Croix, 2007, pp. 75–78, 92, 127, 132, fig. 7 (color).

    Linda Nochlin. Courbet. New York, 2007, pp. 16, 78, 103 –4, 196, 213 n. 55, colorpl. 4.

    Masterpieces of European Painting, 1800–1920, in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, pp. 53, 232, no. 50, ill. (color and black and white), calls it "Young Women from the Village" and dates it 1852.

    Sylvain Amic in Gustave Courbet. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. New York, 2008, p. 342 [French ed., Paris, 2007].

    Laurence des Cars in Gustave Courbet. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. New York, 2008, pp. 318, 380 [French ed., Paris, 2007].

    Dominique de Font-Réaulx in Gustave Courbet. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. New York, 2008, pp. 126–27, 161, 170–71, 181 n. 32, pp. 184, 191–92 n. 6, p. 208, ill. (installation photo) [French ed., Paris, 2007].

    Kathryn Calley Galitz in Gustave Courbet. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. New York, 2008, pp. 133, 168–69, no. 44, ill. (color) [French ed., Paris, 2007], calls it "Young Ladies of the Village" and dates it 1851–52; notes that in the variant (1851; Leeds City Art Gallery), the figures were added after Courbet completed our picture, sometime between 1851 and 1854; mentions two other paintings of the same site: "La Roche de dix heures" (private collection, Canada) and "Landscape at Ornans" (Musée Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels).

    Dominique Lobstein in Gustave Courbet. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. New York, 2008, pp. 432–34, 447 [French ed., Paris, 2007].

    Sylvain Amic and Florence Hudowicz in Courbet: A Dream of Modern Art. Exh. cat., Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt. Ostfildern, 2010, pp. 48, 51 n. 27.

    Klaus Herding in Courbet: A Dream of Modern Art. Exh. cat., Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt. Ostfildern, 2010, pp. 11, 14.

    Stephanie Marchal in Courbet: A Dream of Modern Art. Exh. cat., Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt. Ostfildern, 2010, p. 287.

    Linda Nochlin in Courbet: A Dream of Modern Art. Exh. cat., Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt. Ostfildern, 2010, pp. 79–80, fig. 7 (color), as "Young Ladies from the Village".

    Victoria Combalía in Realismo(s). La huella de Courbet. Exh. cat., Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya. Barcelona, 2011, p. 67.

    Michel Hilaire in Realismo(s). La huella de Courbet. Exh. cat., Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya. Barcelona, 2011, pp. 73, 82.



  • Notes

    The three young ladies, from left to right, are Courbet's sisters Zélie, Juliette, and Zoé.

    There are etchings after this composition by Bracquemond [see Refs. Duret 1908, Bailly-Herzberg 1972] and A. -P. Martial [see Ref. Ideville 1878] and a wood engraving by F. L. Meaulle (J. Bruno, "Les misères des gueux," 1872, ill. p. 152). Braquemond may have based his etching on a drawing sold at Sotheby's, London, June 30, 1976, no. 153.

  • See also
438820

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