Set in a forest, two hunting dogs face off as they await their owner; they and a dead hare are the only traces of human presence. In fact, Courbet repeated the dogs from his slightly earlier The Quarry (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston), which features a stag instead of a hare, as well as a hunter and his servant. Their absence here effectively leaves the viewer alone with the prey. Because this picture dates to the same year that Courbet debuted hunting scenes at the Paris Salon of 1857, it demonstrates his early awareness of the potential for the theme to evoke pathos.
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Title:Hunting Dogs with Dead Hare
Artist:Gustave Courbet (French, Ornans 1819–1877 La Tour-de-Peilz)
Medium:Oil on canvas
Dimensions:36 1/2 x 58 1/2 in. (92.7 x 148.6 cm)
Credit Line:H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Gift of Horace Havemeyer, 1933
Inscription: Signed (lower right): G. Courbet.
[Brame, Paris, until 1892; sold on June 23 for Fr 12,000 to Durand-Ruel]; [Durand-Ruel, Paris, 1892; stock no. 2334; sold on September 26 for Fr 40,000 to Durand-Ruel]; [Durand-Ruel, New York, 1892; sold to Havemeyer]; Mr. and Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, New York (1892–his d.1907); Mrs. H. O. (Louisine W.) Havemeyer, New York (1907–d. 1929; cat., 1931, pp. 352–53, ill.); her son, Horace Havemeyer, New York (1929–33)
Paris. Champ-de-Mars. "Exposition universelle de 1867," 1867, no. 171 (as "Le lièvre forcé," probably this picture).
Brussels. Cercle Artistique et Littéraire. "14 tableaux de Gustave Courbet exposés appartenant à des collectionneurs belges," January 22–27, 1878 [see Lemonnier 1878].
Chicago. World's Fair. "World's Columbian Exhibition: Fine Arts," May 1–October 26, 1893, no. 2898 (as "Dogs and Hare," lent by Henry O. Havemeyer).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Loan Exhibition of the Works of Gustave Courbet," April 7–May 18, 1919, no. 7 (as "Hunting Dogs," lent anonymously).
Tulsa. Philbrook Art Center. "Animals in Art," October 3–December 4, 1944, no. 11 (as "Hunting Dogs").
Art Gallery of Toronto. "Canadian National Exhibition," August 26–September 10, 1949, no. 36 (as "Hunting Dogs").
Nashville. Fisk University. "100 Years of European Painting," April 28–June 10, 1965, unnum. checklist.
Naples. Museo di Capodimonte. "Capolavori Impressionisti dei Musei Americani," December 3, 1986–February 1, 1987, no. 12 (as "Cani da caccia").
Milan. Pinacoteca di Brera. "Capolavori Impressionisti dei Musei Americani," March 4–May 10, 1987, no. 12.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection," March 27–June 20, 1993, no. A128 (as "Hunting Dogs").
Paris. Musée d'Orsay. "La collection Havemeyer: Quand l'Amérique découvrait l'impressionnisme...," October 20, 1997–January 18, 1998, no. 15 (as "Chiens de chasse" ou "Le lièvre forcé").
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. "The Masterpieces of French Painting from The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1800–1920," February 4–May 6, 2007, no. 23.
Berlin. Neue Nationalgalerie. "Französische Meisterwerke des 19. Jahrhunderts aus dem Metropolitan Museum of Art," June 1–October 7, 2007, unnumbered cat.
Otto Scholderer. Letter to Fantin-Latour. [winter 1858–59] [excerpt published in Charles Léger, "Courbet et son temps (Lettres et documents inédits)," Paris, 1948, p. 69], describes seeing a painting of two dogs with a hare in Courbet's Frankfurt studio [probably this picture]; notes that the same dogs appeared in "The Quarry" (1857; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; F188), the landscape was painted from memory, and the hare painted from life after one that Courbet purchased as a model.
Charles Beauquier. Revue littéraire de la Franche-Comté (May 1, 1867), p. 332 [see Ref. Fernier 1978].
Gustave Courbet. Letter to Alfred Bruyas. February 18, 1867 [English transl. published in P. D. Chu, ed., "Letters of Gustave Courbet," Chicago, 1992, no. 67-4, p. 304], states that he is thinking of sending a hunting scene [probably this picture] to the Exposition Universelle.
Gustave Courbet. Letter to Jules Castagnary. [April] 21,  [English transl. published in P. D. Chu, ed., "Letters of Gustave Courbet," Chicago, 1992, no. 67-9, p. 309], states that "Dogs with Hare" was badly placed at the Exposition Universelle.
Gustave Courbet. Letter to Jules Castagnary. March 26, 1874 [English transl. published in P. D. Chu, ed., "Letters of Gustave Courbet," Chicago, 1992, no. 74-3, p. 525], lists "Hare Brought to Bay" [probably this painting] among several pictures stolen from his studio which he is attempting to recover.
Gustave Courbet. Letter to Étienne Baudry. June 2, 1875 [English transl. published in P. D. Chu, ed., "Letters of Gustave Courbet," Chicago, 1992, no. 75-11, p. 551], lists "Hare Brought to Bay with Two Dogs, Undergrowth" among paintings he recalls being stored at the Durand-Ruel gallery.
Camille Lemonnier. "Exposition Courbet au Cercle Artistique et Littéraire." L’artiste: Courrier hebdomadaire artistique, littéraire, musical (February 5, 1878), p. 32 [reprinted in Lemonnier 1878 and Lemonnier 1888], praises it as “résistant,” “forte,” and “vigoureuse”.
Camille Lemonnier. G. Courbet et son oeuvre. Paris, , pp. 74–75.
Camille Lemonnier. Les Peintres de la vie. Paris, 1888, pp. 52–53.
William A. Coffin. "The Columbian Exposition—V. Fine Arts: The French Pictures and the Loan Collection." The Nation 57 (August 31, 1893), p. 152, calls it "an inferior work".
Hubert Howe Bancroft. The Book of the Fair. Vol. 2, part 23, Chicago, 1894, p. 694, calls it "an excellent study".
[Jules] Castagnary. "Fragments d'un livre sur Courbet (deuxième article)." Gazette des beaux-arts 6 (September 1911), ill. p. 488, as "La Meute".
Léonce Bénédite. Courbet. Paris, , pp. 77–78, pl. XXXI, as "Chiens et lièvre"; notes that the dogs are repeated from those in "The Quarry" (Boston; F188); states that it passed from Durand-Ruel to a private collection, New York.
André Fontainas. Courbet. Paris, 1921, p. 68, as "Chiens et lièvre".
Arsène Alexandre. "La Collection Havemeyer: Courbet et Corot." La Renaissance 12 (June 1929), p. 279, ill. p. 270, as "Chiens de chasse".
H. O. Havemeyer Collection: Catalogue of Paintings, Prints, Sculpture and Objects of Art. n.p., 1931, pp. 352–53, ill., calls it "Chiens de chasse".
Josephine L. Allen and Elizabeth E. Gardner. A Concise Catalogue of the European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1954, p. 22.
Louisine W. Havemeyer. Sixteen to Sixty: Memoirs of a Collector. New York, 1961, p. 194, calls it "Les chiens de chasse".
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. 116–17, ill., note its distant relationship to the hunting paintings of Oudry and Desportes.
Bruce K. MacDonald. "The Quarry by Gustave Courbet." Bulletin of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 67, no. 348 (1969), pp. 60–62, 67–68 n. 16, fig. 8, dates it 1858 or 1859; observes that the dogs and rabbit occupy different planes because they were conceived separately.
Robert Fernier. La vie et l'oeuvre de Gustave Courbet. Vol. 2, Peintures, 1866–1877. Lausanne, 1978, pp. 50–51, no. 620, ill., as "Le Lièvre forcé"; dates it 1867.
Hélène Toussaint inGustave Courbet, 1819–1877. Exh. cat., Grand Palais, Paris. London, 1978, p. 131, under no. 50 [French ed., 1977, p. 144], suggests that it may be "a repetition of a previous work, painted for a German customer".
Pierre Courthion. L'opera completa di Courbet. Milan, 1985, p. 107, no. 602, ill., dates it 1867.
Frances Weitzenhoffer. The Havemeyers: Impressionism Comes to America. New York, 1986, pp. 80, 89, pl. 31, dates it 1856; states that Mr. Havemeyer chose this work from a photograph and purchased it from Durand-Ruel in summer 1892.
Gary Tinterow et al. Capolavori impressionisti dei musei americani. Exh. cat., Museo di Capodimonte, Naples. Milan, 1987, pp. 34–35, no. 12, ill. (color).
Douglas E. Edelson et al. inCourbet Reconsidered. Exh. cat., Brooklyn Museum. Brooklyn, 1988, pp. 74–75, ill., calls it "Hunting Dogs" and dates it 1856.
Margaret Robinson. Courbet's Hunt Scenes: The End of a Tradition. Providence, 1990, pp. 6, 21 n. 47, dates it about 1857.
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. 194, 330 n. 272.
Susan Alyson Stein inSplendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, pp. 214–15, states that Joseph Durand-Ruel recommended it to the Havemeyers, with an asking price of Fr 35,000, in correspondence of July 15, 1892, and that arrangements to ship it from Paris to New York had been made by August 19.
Gary Tinterow inSplendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, p. 23, states that the Havemeyers bought it "because the subjects recalled the dogs in 'The Quarry' at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston".
Gretchen Wold inSplendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, p. 312, no. A128, ill. p. 313.
Katharine Baetjer. European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Artists Born Before 1865: A Summary Catalogue. New York, 1995, p. 424, ill.
Gary Tinterow inLa collection Havemeyer: Quand l'Amérique découvrait l'impressionnisme. Exh. cat., Musée d'Orsay. Paris, 1997, pp. 18, 49–50, 104, no. 15, ill. (color), calls it "Chiens de chasse" ou "Le lièvre forcé" and dates it 1857.
Kathryn Calley Galitz inThe Masterpieces of French Painting from The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1800–1920. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. New York, 2007, pp. 43, 199–200, no. 23, ill. (color and black and white), dates it about 1858–59.
Laurence des Cars inGustave Courbet. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2008, p. 392, fig. 2 (color) [French ed., Paris, 2007], calls it "Hunting Dogs" and dates it 1858.
Dominique Lobstein inGustave Courbet. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2008, p. 437 [French ed., Paris, 2007], identifies it as shown in the Exposition Universelle, 1867.
Jean-Philippe Huys inGustave Courbet et la Belgique: Réalisme de l'art vivant à l'art libre. Exh. cat., Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique. Milan, 2013, p. 121, fig. 73 (color).
Jeffery Howe inGustave Courbet et la Belgique: Réalisme de l'art vivant à l'art libre. Exh. cat., Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique. Milan, 2013, pp. 136, 143 n. 33.
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. 14, 19 n. 60.
Raphaël Abrille and Yves Sarfati. "Courbet cynégétique: De la chasse au phantasme." Transferts de Courbet. Ed. Yves Sarfati. [Dijon], 2013, p. 167.
A wood engraving by F. L. Meaulle after this painting is illustrated in Jean Bruno, Les Misères des gueux, 1872, p. 128, as "Les Chiens voulant s'emparer du gibier," signed Courbet at lower left, and M at lower right.
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