Gustave Courbet (French, Ornans 1819–1877 La Tour-de-Peilz)
Oil on canvas
47 1/4 x 29 1/4 in. (120 x 74.3 cm)
H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 811
This nude is painted in an unflinchingly naturalistic style and is devoid of the trappings of academic allegory to which the painting’s title alludes. Courbet is thought to have intended it as a response to Ingres’s own La Source (1856, Musée d’Orsay, Paris), which was exhibited at the Galerie Martinet, Paris, in 1861. The picture by Ingres depicts an idealized nude holding a jar from which water pours, an allusion to a spring or river source, and symbolizing poetic inspiration.
Inscription: Signed (lower right): G. Courbet.
[Bernheim-Jeune, Paris]; private collection, Bordeaux (until 1916; sold to Durand-Ruel); [Durand-Ruel, Paris, 1916; sold on April 11 to Durand Ruel]; [Durand-Ruel, New York, 1916, stock no. 3954; sold on March 11 for Fr 50,000, to Havemeyer]; Mrs. H. O. (Louisine W.) Havemeyer, New York (1916–d. 1929; cat., 1931, pp. 80–81, ill.)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Loan Exhibition of the Works of Gustave Courbet," April 7–May 18, 1919, no. 13 (as "The Source," lent anonymously).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The H. O. Havemeyer Collection," March 10–November 2, 1930, no. 29 [2nd ed., 1958, no. 88].
Kansas City, Mo. William Rockhill Nelson Gallery of Art. "One Hundred Years: French Painting, 1820–1920," March 31–April 28, 1935, no. 11.
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. "Masterpieces of Painting," February 5–March 8, 1942, no. 58 (as "La source—The Spring").
Wichita Art Museum. "Three Centuries of French Painting," May 9–23, 1954, no. 14 (as "The Source").
New York. Wildenstein. "Nude in Painting," November 1–December 1, 1956, no. 23 (as "La source").
Bronx County Courthouse. "Paintings from the Metropolitan, Pinturas del Metropolitano," May 12–June 13, 1971, no. 15 (as "The Source").
Tokyo National Museum. "Treasured Masterpieces of The Metropolitan Museum of Art," August 10–October 1, 1972, no. 93.
Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art. "Treasured Masterpieces of The Metropolitan Museum of Art," October 8–November 26, 1972, no. 93.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection," March 27–June 20, 1993, no. A135.
Sydney. Art Gallery of New South Wales. "Body," September 12–November 16, 1997, no. 33.
Martigny. Fondation Pierre Gianadda. "The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: Chefs-d'œuvre de la peinture européenne," June 23–November 12, 2006, no. 41.
Barcelona. Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya. "Grandes maestros de la pintura europea de The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Nueva York: De El Greco a Cézanne," December 1, 2006–March 4, 2007, no. 33.
Gustave Kahn. "Courbet." L'Art et les artistes, n.s., 15 (October 1927), ill. p. 9.
Charles Léger. Courbet. Paris, 1929, p. 90, as "Femme à la source".
R. H. Wile[n]ski. French Painting. Boston, 1931, p. 224, dates it about 1862.
H. O. Havemeyer Collection: Catalogue of Paintings, Prints, Sculpture and Objects of Art. n.p., 1931, pp. 80–81, ill., calls it "Nude-La Source" and dates it about 1862.
Pierre Mac Orlan. Courbet. [Paris], 1951, pl. 31 (overall and detail), as "Baigneuse à la source"; dates it 1862.
Claus Virch and Samuel J. Wagstaff Jr. inGauguin: Paintings, Drawings, Prints, Sculpture. Exh. cat., Art Institute of Chicago. Chicago, 1959, p. 51, mention the similarity between this composition and Gauguin's "The Moon and the Earth" (1893; Museum of Modern Art, New York).
Louisine W. Havemeyer. Sixteen to Sixty: Memoirs of a Collector. New York, 1961, pp. 185, 197–98, claims that the figure was painted in France and the landscape at Courbet's villa in Switzerland; states that she bought the picture from Durand-Ruel by cable in 1915 [see Ref. Weitzenhoffer 1986]; compares it to another version of the same subject (Musée d'Orsay, Paris; F627), suggesting that the same model was used for both pictures.
Gaston Delestre. Letter to Margaretta Salinger. March 10, 1962, sees a difference in quality and technique between the figure and the landscape, and suggests that the picture may have been painted by Courbet in collaboration with Hector Hanoteau (1823–1890).
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. 121–22, ill., suggest that this picture may be a response to Ingres's painting of the same title (1856; Musée d'Orsay), which had been exhibited at the Galerie Martinet, Paris in 1861; state that technical examination of the picture has revealed no evidence to support the suggestion that this work is a collaboration [see Ref. Delestre 1962].
Georges Boudaille. Gustave Courbet: Painter in Protest. Greenwich, Conn., 1969, ill. p. 98, dates it 1862.
Marie-Thérèse de Forges inGustave Courbet (1819–1877). Exh. cat., Villa Medici. Rome, 1969, pp. 78, 80, dates it probably about 1862; comments that the title is atypical for Courbet, and suggests that besides possibly being a response to Ingres's work of the same title (Orsay), it may also be a response to Guichard's 1862 brochure attacking Courbet's artistic doctrines.
Roger Bonniot. Gustave Courbet en Saintonge, 1862–1863. Paris, 1973, pp. 88–89, calls it as "Baigneuse à la source" or "La source"; believes that the model in this picture does not reappear in Courbet's other paintings.
Robert Fernier. La vie et l'oeuvre de Gustave Courbet. Vol. 1, Peintures, 1819–1865. Lausanne, 1977, p. 190, no. 328, ill. p. 191, calls it "Femme à la source"; dates it 1862.
Hélène Toussaint inGustave Courbet, 1819–1877. Exh. cat., Grand Palais, Paris. London, 1978, p. 178 [French ed., 1977, p. 198], calls it "Spring" and dates it 1861?.
Eldon N[eal]. van Liere. "Solutions and Dissolutions: The Bather in Nineteenth-Century French Painting." Arts Magazine (May 1980), pp. 107–8, fig. 12.
Pierre Courthion. L'opera completa di Courbet. Milan, 1985, p. 91, no. 315, ill., dates it 1862.
Frances Weitzenhoffer. The Havemeyers: Impressionism Comes to America. New York, 1986, pp. 230, 256, pl. 154, dates it 1862; states that Mrs. Havemeyer bought this picture in March 1916 for Fr 50,000 from Durand-Ruel's New York branch, which had recently received it on consignment from a French dealer.
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. 185, 195, 197–98, 328 n. 254, p. 330 n. 278, p. 331 n. 282.
Susan Alyson Stein inSplendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, p. 271.
Gary Tinterow inSplendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, p. 22, pl. 21, dates it 1862; considers it the weakest Courbet in the Havemeyer collection.
Gretchen Wold inSplendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, p. 315, no. A135, ill. p. 314.
Anthony Bond inIl Nudo fra Ideale e Realtà: Dal Neoclassicismo ad Oggi. Exh. cat., Galleria d'Arte Moderna Bologna. Florence, 2004, p. 285, fig. 1.
Kathryn Calley Galitz inThe Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: Chefs-d'œuvre de la peinture européenne. Exh. cat., Fondation Pierre Gianadda. Martigny, 2006, pp. 218–20, no. 41, ill. (color) [Catalan ed., Barcelona, 2006, pp. 120–21, no. 33, ill. (color)], asserts that it may have been painted while Courbet was a guest of the collector Etienne Baudry, at his Château de Rochemont, in Saintonge.
Katharine Baetjer inThe Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: Chefs-d'œuvre de la peinture européenne. Exh. cat., Fondation Pierre Gianadda. Martigny, 2006, p. 18 [Catalan ed., Barcelona, 2006, p. 18].
Laurence des Cars inGustave Courbet. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2008, p. 386 [French ed., Paris, 2007].
Sylvain Amic inGustave Courbet. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2008, p. 97 [French ed., Paris, 2007].
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, pp. 78–79, fig. 8.