Several artists ventured portraits of Mathilde Desportes, including the popular academician Jean-Jacques Henner (1829–1905), but her husband, Auguste Cuoq, found most of them unacceptable. This likeness was among those he rejected, reportedly because he felt that it did not adequately convey his wife’s beauty. Courbet appears to have finished the picture to his own satisfaction in 1857, the date he assigned it in the catalogue of the solo exhibition he mounted in Paris in 1867.
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Title:Madame Auguste Cuoq (Mathilde Desportes, 1827–1910)
Artist:Gustave Courbet (French, Ornans 1819–1877 La Tour-de-Peilz)
Medium:Oil on canvas
Dimensions:69 1/2 x 42 1/2 in. (176.5 x 108 cm)
Credit Line:H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929
Inscription: Signed (lower right): G. Courbet.
the artist, Paris (d. 1877; his studio sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, June 28, 1882, no. 17, as "Portrait de Mme XXX [Croq]," 174 x 108 cm, for Fr 1,210 to Hecht); ?sale, Brussels, 1891; Mme de Vermeulen de Villiers (by 1907–9; her sale, Galerie Georges Petit, May 6, 1909, no. 38, as "Le Femme à la main gantée (Portrait de Mme Croq)", for Fr 50,000, to Durand-Ruel for Havemeyer); Mrs. H. O. (Louisine W.) Havemeyer, New York (1909–d. 1929; cat., 1931, pp. 94–95, ill.)
Paris. Rond-Point du Pont de l'Alma. "Exposition des œuvres de M. G. Courbet," April 30–November 1867, no. 87 (as "Madame M . . . C . . . [Paris, 1857]").
Vienna. Oesterreichischer Kunst-Verein in Wien. April 19–June 30, 1873 [see Riat 1906].
Paris. Ecole des Beaux-Arts. "Exposition des œuvres de Gustave Courbet," May 1882, no. 163 (as "Portrait de Mme M . . . C . . . ").
Paris. Palais du Domaine de Bagatelle. "Exposition de portraits de femmes (1870–1900)," May 15–July 14, 1907, no. 63 (as "Portrait de Marie Crocq dit 'La femme aux gants'," lent by Mme Vermeulen de Villiers).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Loan Exhibition of the Works of Gustave Courbet," April 7–May 18, 1919, no. 9 (as "Portrait of Madame Crocq [La femme au gant]," lent anonymously).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The H. O. Havemeyer Collection," March 10–November 2, 1930, no. 25 (as "Mme Marie Crocq") [2nd ed., 1958, no. 85].
Paris. Galeries nationales du Grand Palais. "Gustave Courbet, 1819–1877," September 30, 1977–January 2, 1978, no. 55 (as "Portrait de Mathilde Cuoq, née Desportes").
London. Royal Academy of Arts. "Gustave Courbet, 1819–1877," January 19–March 19, 1978, no. 52.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection," March 27–June 20, 1993, no. A133 (as "Mme Auguste Couq [Mathilde Desportes, 1828–1910]").
Paris. Musée d'Orsay. "La collection Havemeyer: Quand l'Amérique découvrait l'impressionnisme...," October 20, 1997–January 18, 1998, no. 18.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Gustave Courbet," February 27–May 18, 2008, no. 143.
Gustave Courbet. Letter to Francis Wey. [January 1, 1852] [English transl. published in P. D. Chu., ed., "Letters of Gustave Courbet," Chicago, 1992, p. 105], states that he would have liked to finish this picture for the Salon of 1852.
Zacharie Astruc. Les 14 Stations du Salon. Paris, 1859, pp. 389–90, describes seeing a portrait of a woman in black in Courbet's studio [probably this picture].
Champfleury. Grandes figures d'hier et d'aujourd'hui: Balzac, Gérard de Nerval, Wagner, Courbet. Paris, 1861, p. 249, describes a portrait of a woman in Courbet's studio that remains unfinished after four years [probably this picture; see Refs. Toussaint 1978, Galitz 2008].
Gustave Courbet. Letter to Auguste Cuoq. January 1, 1862 [departmental archive file], requests additional sittings to complete this portrait.
Paul Eudel. L'Hotel Drouot et la curiosité en 1882. 2nd ed.?. Paris, 1885, p. 420, lists its 1882 sale to Hecht for Fr 1,210.
Alexandre Estignard. Courbet: sa vie, ses oeuvres. Besançon, 1896, p. 182, lists it as "Portrait de Madame Ciocq, n.d.," and states that it was sold in Brussels in 1891.
Georges Riat. Gustave Courbet peintre. Paris, 1906, pp. 170–71, 341, lists it among works sent to the Oesterreichischer Kunst-Verein exhibition in Vienna in 1873; gives the correct spelling of the sitter's name as Cuoq.
Louis Vauxcelles. "Portraits de femmes à bagatelle." Les Arts 6 (June 1907), p. 12.
G. B. "Une exposition de portraits de femmes à Bagatelle." L'illustration (June 1, 1907), pp. 365, 368, ill., dates it 1857.
Julius Meier-Graefe. Corot und Courbet. 2nd ed. Munich, 1912, ill. between pp. 144 and 145, dates it 1854–55.
Léonce Bénédite. Courbet. Paris, , pp. 73–74, pl. XXIX, calls it "Mme Marie Crocq," dates it 1857, and states that it recently left the Durand-Ruel Gallery for Brussels.
Royal Cortissoz. "Gustave Courbet at the Museum." New York Tribune (April 6, 1919), p. 7, as "Madame Crocq: La Femme au Gant".
André Fontainas. Courbet. Paris, 1921, pp. 71, 77, cites this painting as an example of Courbet's ability to portray luxury and elegance.
Julius Meier-Graefe. Courbet. Munich, 1921, pl. 26, dates it 1854–55.
Charles Léger. Courbet. Paris, 1925, p. 66.
Charles Léger. Courbet. Paris, 1929, pp. 69, 216.
Harry B. Wehle. "The Exhibition of the H. O. Havemeyer Collection." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 25 (March 1930), p. 55.
H. O. Havemeyer Collection: Catalogue of Paintings, Prints, Sculpture and Objects of Art. n.p., 1931, pp. 94–95, no. 25, calls it "Portrait of Mme Marie Crocq"; notes erroneously that it was exhibited in the Salon of 1857.
Charles Léger. Courbet et son temps (Lettres et documents inédits). Paris, 1948, pp. 62, 196.
Gerstle Mack. Gustave Courbet. New York, 1951, p. 142, dates it 1856 and calls it "Woman with the Glove".
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, pp. 200–201, calls it "La Femme au Gant, a portrait of Mme Crocq" and describes buying this picture at the Galerie Petit auction.
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. 115–16, ill., as "Madame Marie Crocq"; state that the artist added a strip of canvas to the bottom of the picture, on which he signed his name.
Olivier Sevaistre. Letter. August 1967, gives the correct name of the sitter, his great-grandmother, as Mathilde Cuoq, wife of Auguste Cuoq; relates that his great-grandfather did not accept the portrait from Courbet, even though he had paid for it.
Olivier Sevaistre. Letter. September 27, 1967, gives the sitter's maiden name as Desportes; notes that she was born in Paris on March 31, 1827, married August Cuoq in 1848, and died in Paris in 1910; states that his father positively identified this painting in Exh. Paris 1907.
Hélène Toussaint inGustave Courbet (1819–1877). Exh. cat., Villa Medici. Rome, 1969, p. 69, dates it 1857 and relates it to Courbet's full-length portrait of a man (F38; Museo Jenisch, Vevey), and to "Woman in a Riding Habit" (MMA 29.100.59).
Georges Boudaille. Gustave Courbet: Painter in Protest. Greenwich, Conn., 1969, p. 75, states incorrectly that Courbet submitted this work to the 1856 Salon.
Robert Fernier. La vie et l'oeuvre de Gustave Courbet. Vol. 1, Peintures, 1819–1865. Lausanne, 1977, pp. 138–39, no. 223, ill., dates it 1857 and states that it was sold by the Galerie Petit in 1909 to Durand-Ruel for Fr 50,000.
Hélène Toussaint inGustave Courbet, 1819–1877. Exh. cat., Grand Palais, Paris. London, 1978, pp. 132–33, no. 52, ill. [French ed., 1977, pp. 147–48, no. 55, ill.], tentatively associates this picture with Ref. Champfleury 1861 and with an excerpt from Francis Wey's unpublished memoirs recounting a visit to Courbet's studio by an unknown couple who commissioned the wife's portrait, which is worked on by Courbet for two years in four different versions.
Michael Wentworth. James Tissot. Oxford, 1984, pp. xiv, 47, pl. 27, dates it 1859; considers this painting a possible source for Tissot's "Portrait de Mlle L. L)" (1864; Musée d'Orsay, Paris).
Pierre Courthion. L'opera completa di Courbet. Milan, 1985, pp. 84–85, no. 216, ill.
Frances Weitzenhoffer. The Havemeyers: Impressionism Comes to America. New York, 1986, pp. 190–91, 258, pl. 142.
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. 200–202, 331 n. 286.
Susan Alyson Stein inSplendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, p. 250, 284–85, pl. 246, dates it 1857.
Gary Tinterow inSplendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, p. 24, calls it "an extraordinary period piece".
Gretchen Wold inSplendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, pp. 313–14, no. A133, ill., dates it 1857.
Katharine Baetjer. European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Artists Born Before 1865: A Summary Catalogue. New York, 1995, p. 424, ill.
Valérie Bajou. Courbet. Paris, 2003, pp. 312–14, ill. (color).
Ségolène Le Men. Courbet. Paris, 2007, pp. 229, 266, fig. 183 (color), erroneously states that it appeared in the Salon of 1857 with "Louis Gueymard (1822–1880) as Robert le Diable" (1857, The Met 19.84).
Kathryn Calley Galitz inGustave Courbet. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2008, pp. 310–11, no. 143, ill. (color) [French ed., Paris, 2007], dates it about 1852–57, but notes the possibility that it was completed in 1862 since Courbet requested additional sittings in that year [see Ref. Courbet 1862]; adds that the sitter's hair and headdress appear later than the style of her dress.
Christian Huemer. "'Une exposition (in)complète': Courbet in Vienna, 1873." Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide 11 (Summer 2012) [http://www.19thc-artworldwide.org/index.php/summer12/christian-huemer-courbet-in-vienna], includes it among the works Courbet exhibited with the Oesterreichischer Kunst-Verein in Vienna in spring 1873 and notes that the exhibited paintings were among a group of fifty-nine works Durand-Ruel had taken into safekeeping for the artist to avoid their confiscation (citing Durand-Ruel's "Brouillard" for the latter).
A related bust-length study for the portrait (Fernier no. 225) is in the Stan Battat collection (sale, Sotheby's, New York, 19th Century European Art, January 31, 2020, no. 432).
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