Young Ladies of the Village

Artist: 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


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.