Marine: The Waterspout

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

Date: 1870

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 27 1/8 x 39 1/4 in. (68.9 x 99.7 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Gift of Horace Havemeyer, 1929

Accession Number: 29.160.35


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).