Portrait of Jo, the Beautiful Irish Girl is a painting by Gustave Courbet depicting model Joanna Hiffernan. The artwork features a melancholy Jo, who gazes into a mirror while caressing her hair. Courbet made four versions of this portrait series that convey themes such as sensuality, vanity, and the ephemeral nature of beauty.
The Realist painter, Gustave Courbet (1819-1877), was known for his simple yet powerful paintings. He led the Realism movement in 19th-century French painting with an ideology that opposed romanticism and focused on depicting reality as it appears to the artist’s eyes. This particular portrait is an excellent example of realism in art.
Joanna Hiffernan was not just Courbet’s muse but also James McNeill Whistler’s; she served as inspiration for many artists during her New York-London-Paris modeling career. There are some speculations regarding Hiffernan and Courbet’s relationship; however, there is no conclusive evidence to support such claims.