About this artwork

From the mid-1860s Courbet produced a number of landscapes depicting the dramatic scenery near his native town of Ornans in the Jura mountains. The exact location for this picture has not been identified, but is presumably the upper reaches of the Doubs river or one of its tributaries, such as the Loue or the Conche. Courbet was fascinated by the huge waterfalls and deep gorges which formed in the limestone rocks. He would venture into the mountains to paint out of doors, using his donkey Jérôme to carry his materials. Courbet’s uncompromising view of nature and bold technique, making frequent use of the palette knife, had an important influence on the next generation of landscape painters, particularly the young Impressionists.

  • title: A River in a Mountain Gorge
  • accession number: NG 2232
  • artist: Gustave CourbetFrench (1819 - 1877)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Painting
  • subject: Mountains Rivers Rocks
  • medium: Oil on canvas
  • date created: About 1864
  • measurements: 81.40 x 64.70 cm (framed: 109.85 x 93.98 x 12.70 cm)
  • credit line: Presented by Sir Alexander Maitland in memory of his wife Rosalind, 1960
  • photographer: Antonia Reeve

Gustave Courbet

Gustave Courbet

Courbet was the great rebel of nineteenth-century French art. He rejected the established conventions of academic painting, with its emphasis on idealised historical and mythological subjects, in favour of real subjects from ordinary life. Courbet staged his own exhibition in his 'Pavilion of Realism' during the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1855 which established an important precedent for future independent shows. Many of his paintings were based on people and places in the Jura, the mountainous region of eastern France where Courbet was born. His later self-imposed exile in Switzerland followed his active role in the Paris Commune.