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  • Download the eBook: Gustave Courbet, the face of «The Origin of the World»

    Gustave Courbet, the face of «The Origin of the World»

    Rédaction De Paris Match
    Publisher : Filipacchi Publication date : 2013-03-22
    Format : ePub


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    This is the story of a discovery that shook the art world and stacked expert against expert. Released a few short days after the Paris Match revelations about Gustave Courbet’s The Origin of the World, our story began in 2010 when an art collector acquired this “lustful beauty” in a Parisian antique shop for €1,400. Upon arriving home, he noticed the painting’s edges had been severed, as if cut away from a larger work. He also noticed that it hadn’t been signed. Yet he later discovered a stamp on the canvas’ back, perhaps that of a local hardware store. The collector spent endless hours hunting through documents, hoping to retrace the identity of this mystery woman. Finally, one night: “Shaking, he downloaded an online copy of The Origin, made a life-size print (46 by 55 cm) and placed it nearly exactly over his painting … a revelation.”

    In June, luck struck once again: he discovered a copy of Courbet’s Woman With a Parrot. It was nearly the same portrait. The woman’s name was Joanna Hiffernan, the painter’s model and mistress, undoubtedly the subject of The Origin of the World. Following a four-month investigation, he met Gustave Courbet expert Jean-Jacques Fernier at the Gustave Courbet Institute, “the only person qualified to attribute the master’s works.”

    The expert confirmed that indeed, the scandalous painting was an incomplete work, a fragment from a larger work. The collector turned his painting over to the specialists at the private art research center, CARAA. Their results were a perfect match. The analysis provided sufficient proof for Jean-Jacques Fernier to register the work in volume III of the Gustave Courbet catalogue raisonné.

    This fantastic discovery is exclusively detailed here in the context of Courbet’s life: the most unusual story of The Origin of the World.

    By Anne-Cécile Beaudoin, Danièle Georget and François Pédron

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