Madame Frederic Breyer (Fanny Hélène Van Bruyssel, 1830–1894)

Gustave Courbet French

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 812

Courbet made this painting during an 1858 trip to Brussels intended to cultivate a Belgian market for his work. It was commissioned as a betrothal portrait by the sitter’s fiancé, a doctor originally from Germany who belonged to progressive political circles, like Courbet himself. Shown in Antwerp in the summer of 1858, the picture earned praise for its forthright portrayal of a woman who was not conventionally beautiful, but seemed "strong-willed . . . and full of spirit." The painting remained in the sitter’s family until it was purchased in 1907, at the recommendation of Mary Cassatt, by Louisine and H.O. Havemeyer.

Madame Frederic Breyer (Fanny Hélène Van Bruyssel, 1830–1894), Gustave Courbet (French, Ornans 1819–1877 La Tour-de-Peilz), Oil on canvas

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