Gustave Courbet’s 1862 painting, The Source, depicts a nude woman standing in front of a stream of water. The model in this picture is believed to be unique to this painting and does not appear in Courbet’s other works. The inclusion of the stone and wood construction at left hints at its use as an industrial form of power.
Courbet was known for rejecting the classical and theatrical styles of the French Academy, instead insisting on representing objects based on their physical reality. This differs from the Romantic school of painters who used more dramatic techniques. In the creation of The Source, Courbet employed spontaneous brush strokes with roughness in paint texture that characterized his artistic style.
The painting was first purchased by an antique dealer Antoine de la Narde during the sale of Khalil Bey collection in 1868. Overall, Gustave Courbet’s The Source stands out as a unique piece within his extensive body of work owing to its non-classical depiction style and representation of preindustrial power generation through human effort.