Skip to main content

June 10 Art Minute: Gustave Courbet, Landscape Near Ornans

Art Minute, Art of the Week, toledo museum of art
Gustave Courbet (French, 1819-1877), Landscape Near Ornans. Oil on canvas, 1864. Purchased with funds from the Libbey Endowment, Gift of Edward Drummond Libbey, 1964.59. Gallery 33

"To paint a land you have to know it. I know my land and I paint it. That undergrowth—it comes from our land. That river—it’s the Loue…Those rocks, those are in Ornans…Go look, you’ll recognize all my paintings." –Gustave Courbet

Gustave Courbet painted the jagged rock formations and rugged ravines around Ornans, France, with a drama befitting the terrain. Quick flicks of the brush created the foliage of the trees and shrubs, but he used a palette knife to sculpt the stark limestone cliffs with thick white paint.

Ornans, not far from the Swiss border, was Courbet’s native town, and he wandered through its surrounding lush valleys with his easel and paints, creating compelling images of nature. In contrast to his softer (though no less vibrant) The Trellis, Courbet’s Landscape Near Ornans seems elemental in its forcefulness.

This work is currently on view in Gallery 33.

Today, June 10, is also Gustave Courbet's birthday.