Gustave Courbet, French, 1819-1877
Title: Portrait of Adolphe Marlet
Date: 1851
Medium: Oil on canvas
56 x 46 cm
Signed: lower left: G.C.
Credit Line: Purchased, 1962 (Shaw Fund)
Object Number: NGI.1722
DescriptionGustave Courbet was one of the most influential and controversial artists in nineteenth-century France. As the key proponent of Realism, he challenged the established art world by painting scenes from modern life in a direct way, without idealising his subject matter. His paintings and writings had a great impact on how art looked but also on how it was taught, exhibited and sold.
Throughout his career, Courbet painted portraits of fellow artists and writers, particularly those who shared his political views. When he held a large one-man show in Paris in 1867, he included this portrait of Adolphe Marlet, a childhood friend. Marlet trained briefly as an artist before studying law and becoming a councillor for the department of Mayenne. He is included among the figures in Courbet’s Burial at Ornans (1849-50; Musée d’Orsay). This closely observed portrait, with its warm colouring and dark tones, reflects Courbet’s appreciation of the work of seventeenth-century Dutch artists like Rembrandt and Frans Hals, which he had seen in the Louvre and while visiting Holland in 1846-47.

March 2016

ProvenanceCollection Juliette Courbet; Hotel Drouot, Paris, 9 December 1881, Courbet sale, lot 19; Jean-Francois Rafaelli; Theodore Duret, Paris; Marczell von Nemecz, Budapest; Galerie Manzi-Joyant, Paris, 18 July 1913, Marczell von Nemecz sale, lot 96; Galerie Durand-Ruell, Paris; Galerie Barbazanges, Paris, 1921; H.M. Calmann, Hamburg; J.M.F. Baer and Mrs Alexander Baer, London; Hazlitt Gallery, London, 1938; Matthiesen Gallery, London by 1962; purchased, Matthiesen Gallery, London, 1962
Exhibition HistoryExposition des oeuvres de M.G. Courbet, Rond-Point de l'Alma, Champs-Elysees, Paris, 1867

Hotel Drouot, Paris, 1881

Présentation de peintures de Courbet, Théâtre de la Gaieté, Paris, 1881

Exposition des oeuvres de M.G. Courbet, Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris, 1882

Sammlung Marczell von Nemes, Stadt Kunsthalle, Dusseldorf, 1912

Exposition à la Galerie Manzi-Joyant, Paris, 1913

Peinture Francais, Kunsthalle, Bale, 1921

Hazlitt Gallery, London, 1949

Gustave Courbet, Marlborough Gallery, London, 1953

Lyons, 1954

Courbet, XXVII Biennale di Venezia, Venice, 1954

G. Courbet, Musée du Petit Palais, Paris, 1955

Centenary Exhibition, National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin, October - December 1964

Gustave Courbet (1819-1877), Grand Palais, Paris, 30 September 1977 - 2 January 1978; Royal Academy, London, 18 January - 19 March 1978

La Peinture francaise du XIXie siècle, Collection Chester Beatty de la Galerie Nationale d'Irlande, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Calais; Musée des Beaux-Arts, Quimper; Musée Sainte-Croix, Poitiers, 1989

French 19th and 20th Century Paintings from the National Gallery of Ireland: Corot to Picasso, Daimaru Museum, Tokyo, 5 September-17 September 1996; Daimaru Museum, Kyoto, 10 October-22 October 1996; Kawaguchiko Museum of Art, Yamanashi, 26 October-2 December 1996; Daimaru Museum, Umeda,Osaka, 22 January-9 February 1997; Aomori Municpal Gallery of Art, Aomori, 2 April-20 April 1997

Gustave Courbet, Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Paris, 13 October 2007 - 28 January 2008; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 27 Febraury 2008 - 18 May 2008; Musee Fabre, Montpellier, 14 June 2008 - 28 September 2008

Courbet: A Dream of Modern Art, Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt, 15 October 2010 - 30 January 2011

Von Poussin bis Monet. Die Farben Frankreichs, The Arp Museum Bahnhof Rolandseck, Remagen, 22 March - 6 September 2015; Bucerius Kunst Forum, Hamburg, 10 October 2015 - 17 January 2016
Label TextCourbet was a Realist artist who painted modern life-subjects in a direct and unsentimental manner. This intimate portrait depicts his childhood friend Adolphe Marlet reading. Marlet had trained as an artist before becoming a lawyer. He is included among the figures in Courbet’s masterpiece Burial at Ornans (1849-50; Musée d’Orsay). Courbet’s use of dark tones and an informal pose reflects his interest in the portraiture of seventeenth-century Dutch artists like Rembrandt and Frans Hals.

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