Gustave Courbet (French, 1819-77)
La Liberté, 1875
Bronze with dark brown patina, unique
cast at the Fonderie Louis Martin, Paris, in 1875
34-1/4 by 24-3/8 by 20-1/2 inches (87 by 62 by 52.1 cm.)
marble base: 11-3/4 by 6-1/8 by 11-3/4 inches (29.8 by 15.5 by 29.8 cm.)
carved on the front of the white marble base: “LIBERTE”;
carved on the back of the white marble base: “M DORET”
carved on the bottom of the white marble base: “COURBET 1875”
on the figure’s left shoulder: “L. Martin/ Fondeur Paris”
on the figure’s right shoulder: “Courbet/Sculp”
inscribed on the original black wooden box: “Baron de Bastard”
The present bronze is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity issued by Jean-Jacques Fernier, Vice-President of the Institut Courbet and Conservateur honoraire of the Musée Courbet. It will also be included in the catalogue raisonné of the works of Gustave Courbet being prepared by the Fondation Wildenstein, Paris.
provenance: Baron de Bastard, France
Galerie Castagnary, Saintes, Saintonge, France
(by 17 May 1875)
Sale, Paris, Hôtel Drouot, 8 June 1895 (lot 46; bt. 285
ff. by Mayer)
Louis Phillipe Demaëght (1831-1898) Oran, Algeria
(purchased from Mayer)
M. Gilly (acquired 1898)
Private collection, Algeria (1928)
Private collection, France (by descent)
Jean Désiré Gustave Courbet (French: [ɡystav kuʁbɛ]; 10 June 1819 – 31 December 1877) was a French painter who led the Realism movement in 19th-century French painting. Committed to painting only what he could see, he rejected academic convention and the Romanticism of the previous generation of visual artists. His independence set an example that was important to later artists, such as the Impressionists and the Cubists. Courbet occupies an important place in 19th-century French painting as an innovator and as an artist willing to make bold social statements through his work.
Courbet's paintings of the late 1840s and early 1850s brought him his first recognition. They challenged convention by depicting unidealized peasants and workers, often on a grand scale traditionally reserved for paintings of religious or historical subjects. Courbet's subsequent paintings were mostly of a less overtly political character: landscapes, seascapes, hunting scenes, nudes and still lifes. An active socialist, Courbet was active in the political developments of France. He was imprisoned for six months in 1871 for his involvement with the Paris Commune, and lived in exile in Switzerland from 1873 until his death.
I am fifty years old and I have always lived in freedom; let me end my life free; when I am dead let this be said of me: 'He belonged to no school, to no church, to no institution, to no academy, least of all to any régime except the régime of liberty.'