Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    GUSTAVE COURBET (French 1819-1877)
    Stream In The Forest, circa 1863
    Oil on canvas
    26-½ x 18-½ inches (66 x 41 cm)
    Signed lower left: G. Courbet

    New York, Salander-O'Reilly Galleries and Roslyn, New York, Nassau County Museum of Art, Courbet: Later Paintings, February-May 1998, no. 5, ill;
    New York, Salander-O'Reilly Galleries, Nineteenth-Century European Paintings, February 4-March 1, 2003, no. 9, ill.;
    New York, Salander-O'Reilly Galleries, Gustave Courbet, October 28-November 29, 2003, p. 23, ill.

    Relevant Literature:
    Robert Fernier, La Vie et l'oeuvre de Gustave Courbet, Catalogue Raisonné, Lausanne and Paris: 1977-78, vol. I, no. 344, ill.

    "Courbet's essential pictorial legacy came to fruition in the late 1860's," Jean-Jacques Fernier wrote in 1998 of the great, irascible, anti-establishment, and deeply poetic French realist. "His work from this period embraced nature in its entirety to the exclusion of all other components, in a mélange of profound and mysterious darkness, green pastures, shadows and water. . . Courbet was deeply tied to the poetic landscape of the Loue valley. Nestled within the Jura mountains, it was the cradle of his youth and the epicenter of his mythology. Courbet's eventual return to his origins as subject matter confirms this, rendering his last period of work far more important than one generally believes."

    This rich, verdant landscape of circa 1863 marks the transition in Courbet's oeuvre to his intensive, late-career focus upon the landscape around his native village of Ornans, in the Jura region near the Swiss border. Central to this landscape is the river Loue, seen flowing through the foreground of this vertical slice of dense forest, and brilliant sky. Stretching over 126 kilometers, the Loue, a resurgence of the Doubs River, carved its bed in the deeply wooded plateaus of the Jura before merging into the Doubs River downstream from the city of Dole. The Loue valley is most dramatic between the source of the Loue and Courbet's hometown of Ornans, the capital of the Loue high valley. The river drops 229 meters in altitude over a distance of 20 kilometers, so that there are frequent picturesque waterfalls and rapids marking its descent, such as the gentle one depicted in the present work.

    The most obsessive subject of Courbet's work as a landscape painter is the grotto, or the river's source. In the years immediately following his production of the present landscape, Courbet painted again and again the deep rocky cave from which the water of the Loue River emerges, as well as the towering stony outcroppings which flank its course and stand witness to all the water spilling forth. During the 1860s, when Courbet had turned his attention to his region's geologic structures, scientists had begun to explore the territory as well. It provided a prime opportunity to the newly developing field of geology, which opened up the vast perspective of geological time. In fact, Courbet's native landscape of Jura gave the Jurassic period its name. For Courbet as well as for the geologists, the life-giving force emanating from the dark cavern of the Loue had primordial significance. For Courbet, it had a profoundly personal, sexual significance as well: in was in this landscape that he literally came into the world. It is within this context of grotto paintings that Courbet painted his celebrated Origin of the World (Musee d'Orsay, Paris), a close-up view between the legs of a sturdy nude woman, in 1866: the nude is the source of the Loue, of Courbet himself, and of his artistic genius.

    The specific landscape depicted in the present work is related to a more extensive painting of the same location entitled Rocks at Chauveroche (1864), private collection (reproduced in Mary Morton and Charlotte Eyerman, Courbet and the Modern Landscape, J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, California, 2006, plate 4.) The same configuration of rapids, trees and shrubbery appears in the central foreground of the 1864 landscape, but is viewed from a vantage point parallel to the river.

    Condition Report*: Relined with scattered strengthening to sky and lower right and thick, old varnish.
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. Heritage does not guarantee the condition of frames and shall not be liable for any damage/scratches to frames, glass/acrylic coverings, original boxes, display accessories, or art that has slipped in frames. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    May, 2007
    24th-25th Thursday-Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 937

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    19.5% of the successful bid (minimum $9) per lot.

    Shipping, Taxes, Terms and Bidding
    This item cannot be shipped using standard methods. Please contact us for more information. Sales Tax information

    Important information concerning Sales Tax and Resale Certificates. Learn More

    Terms and Conditions  |  Bidding Guidelines and Bid Increments |  Glossary of Terms

    Sold on May 25, 2007 for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)
    Track Item

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Consign to the 2021 November 16 Silver & Vertu Signature Auction - Dallas.

    Learn about consigning with us

    Thank you for the wonderful job Heritage did with promotion of this piece. So appreciative.
    Laura I.,
    Tulsa, OK
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search