Quantcast
Videos ()
The Artistic Heritage of Modena: At the Origin of the Galleria Estense

Close

The Calm Sea

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

Date:
1869
Medium:
Oil on canvas
Dimensions:
23 1/2 x 28 3/4 in. (59.7 x 73 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929
Accession Number:
29.100.566
  • Gallery Label

    Courbet painted this view looking out over the English Channel during a visit to Étretat along the coast of Normandy in August 1869. The ocean has receded at low tide, and two small boats are left on the shore. The tranquil composition, with its immense sky towering over narrow bands of water and sand, is unusual for Courbet’s marine paintings of this period, dominated by dramatically crashing waves.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Signed and dated (lower left): .69 / G.Courbet.

  • Provenance

    James Stillman, Paris; [Théodore Duret, Paris, until 1911; sold to Havemeyer]; Mrs. H. O. (Louisine W.) Havemeyer, New York (1911–d. 1929; cat., 1931, p. 89)

  • Exhibition History

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The H. O. Havemeyer Collection," March 10–November 2, 1930, no. 34 (as "Calm Sea") [2nd ed., 1958, no. 82].

    Washington. Phillips Memorial Gallery. "Emotional Design in Painting," April 7–May 5, 1940, no. 37.

    Newark Museum. "19th-Century French and American Paintings from the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art," April 9–May 15, 1946, no. 9.

    Palm Beach. Society of the Four Arts. "Portraits, Figures and Landscapes," January 12–February 4, 1951, no. 12.

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Impressionism: A Centenary Exhibition," December 12, 1974–February 10, 1975, not in catalogue.

    Yokohama Museum of Art. "Treasures from The Metropolitan Museum of Art: French Art from the Middle Ages to the Twentieth Century," March 25–June 4, 1989, no. 83.

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection," March 27–June 20, 1993, no. A151.

    Paris. Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais. "Impressionnisme: Les origines, 1859–1869," April 19–August 8, 1994, no. 47 (as "Mer calme [The Calm Sea]").

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Origins of Impressionism," September 27, 1994–January 8, 1995, no. 47.

    Paris. Musée d'Orsay. "La collection Havemeyer: Quand l'Amérique découvrait l'impressionnisme...," October 20, 1997–January 18, 1998, no. 12.

    Los Angeles. J. Paul Getty Museum. "Courbet and the Modern Landscape," February 21–May 14, 2006, no. 37.

    Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. "Courbet and the Modern Landscape," June 18–September 10, 2006, no. 37.

    Baltimore. Walters Art Museum. "Courbet and the Modern Landscape," October 15, 2006–January 7, 2007, no. 37.

    Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. "The Masterpieces of French Painting from The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1800–1920," February 4–May 6, 2007, no. 32.

    Berlin. Neue Nationalgalerie. "Französische Meisterwerke des 19.Jahrhunderts aus dem Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," June 1–October 7, 2007, unnumbered cat.

    Paris. Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais. "Gustave Courbet," October 13, 2007–January 28, 2008, no. 121.

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Gustave Courbet," February 27–May 18, 2008, no. 121.

    Montpellier. Musée Fabre. "Gustave Courbet," June 14–September 28, 2008, no. 121.

    University of Michigan Museum of Art. "The Lens of Impressionism: Photography and Painting along the Normandy Coast, 1850–1874," October 10, 2009–January 3, 2010, unnumbered cat. (p. 185).

    Dallas Museum of Art. "The Lens of Impressionism: Photography and Painting along the Normandy Coast, 1850–1874," February 21–May 23, 2010, unnumbered cat. (p. 185).

  • References

    Gustave Courbet. Letter to Jules Castagnary. [September] 29, [1869] [English transl. published in Petra ten-Doesschate Chu, "Letters of Gustave Courbet," Chicago, 1992, no. 69-9, p. 354], notes that he painted twenty seascapes in Étretat [including this picture; see Ref. Tinterow and Loyrette 1994].

    H. O. Havemeyer Collection: Catalogue of Paintings, Prints, Sculpture and Objects of Art. n.p., 1931, p. 89, call it "Landscape—Marine".

    Lionello Venturi. Modern Painters. 1, New York, 1947, pp. 219–20, fig. 155.

    Louisine W. Havemeyer. Sixteen to Sixty: Memoirs of a Collector. New York, 1961, p. 186.

    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, p. 131, ill., state that it must have been painted when Courbet was in Étretat in the summer of 1869.

    Robert Fernier. "Peintures, 1866–1877." La vie et l'oeuvre de Gustave Courbet. 2, Lausanne, 1978, p. 92, no. 712, ill. p. 93, lists it as formerly in the James Stillman collection, Paris.

    Anne Wagner. "Courbet's Landscapes and their Market." Art History 4 (December 1981), p. 423, fig. 45, notes that it is "one of the long series of paintings which utilize variations of the same simple motif".

    Pierre Courthion. L'opera completa di Courbet. Milan, 1985, p. 112, no. 684, ill., and colorpl. XL.

    Susan Alyson Stein in Treasures from The Metropolitan Museum of Art: French Art from the Middle Ages to the Twentieth Century. Exh. cat., Yokohama Museum of Art. [Tokyo], 1989, pp. 137–38, no. 83, ill. (color), relates it to the seascapes of Whistler, who Courbet met in Trouville in 1865.

    Denys Sutton in Treasures from The Metropolitan Museum of Art: French Art from the Middle Ages to the Twentieth Century. Exh. cat., Yokohama Museum of Art. [Tokyo?], 1989, p. 21.

    Louisine W. Havemeyer. Sixteen to Sixty: Memoirs of a Collector. 3rd ed. [1st ed. 1930, repr. 1961]. New York, 1993, pp. 186, 328 nn. 255, 258.

    Susan Alyson Stein in Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, pp. 258, 286.

    Gretchen Wold in Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, p. 318, no. A151, ill. p. 316.

    Gary Tinterow and Henri Loyrette. Origins of Impressionism. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1994, pp. 240, 297, 323, 364, no. 47, ill. p. 364 and fig. 294 (color), mention it as an example of "meteorological specificity that is close in spirit to Gustave Le Gray's marine photographs"; note that Courbet was in Étretat from August 10 until the third week of September 1869 where he painted twenty seascapes, including this picture [see Ref. Courbet 1869]; state that this picture was among those Courbet intended for sale by Durand-Ruel and Haro.

    Charlotte Eyerman in Mary Morton and Charlotte Eyerman. Courbet and the Modern Landscape. Exh. cat., J. Paul Getty Museum. Los Angeles, 2006, pp. 104, 136, no. 37, colorpl. 37.

    Caroline Mathieu in Turner e gli impressionisti: La grande storia del paesaggio moderno in Europa. Exh. cat., Museo di Santa Giulia, Brescia. Treviso, 2006, p. 304, ill.

    Mary Morton in Mary Morton and Charlotte Eyerman. Courbet and the Modern Landscape. Exh. cat., J. Paul Getty Museum. Los Angeles, 2006, p. 121.

    Kathryn Calley Galitz in Masterpieces of European Painting, 1800–1920, in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, pp. 60–61, 236, no. 57, ill. (color and black and white).

    Kathryn Calley Galitz in The Masterpieces of French Painting from The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1800–1920. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. New York, 2007, pp. 52–53, 202–3, no. 32, ill. (color and black and white).

    Thomas Galifot in Gustave Courbet. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. New York, 2008, p. 275, no. 121, ill. p. 278 (color) [French ed., Paris, 2007], compares it to "The Sea" (1872; Musée des Beaux-Arts, Caen; F817), noting that the latter "could be considered a more modest-size variant" of ours.

    Carole McNamara. The Lens of Impressionism: Photography and Painting along the Normandy Coast, 1850–1874. Exh. cat., University of Michigan Museum of Art. Ann Arbor, 2009, pp. 26, 194, ill. pp. 2–3 (color detail), 185 (color), discusses the affinity between this painting and Gustave Le Gray's photograph, "Seascape, Cloud Study" (1856–57; Musée d'Orsay, Paris).

    Klaus Herding in Courbet: A Dream of Modern Art. Exh. cat., Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt. Ostfildern, 2010, p. 256, under no. 83.



  • See also
    Who
    What
    Where
    When
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
436005

Close