The Source of the Loue (1864) by Gustave Courbet

The Source of the Loue - Gustave Courbet - 1863 - 1864

Artwork Information

TitleThe Source of the Loue
ArtistGustave Courbet
Date1863 - 1864
Dimensions38 3/4 x 51 3/8 in (98.4 x 130.4 cm)
Art MovementRealism
Current LocationNational Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

About The Source of the Loue

The artwork “The Source of the Loue” by Gustave Courbet was created between 1863 and 1864. As a piece of the Realism art movement, it captures the rugged essence of a landscape through the medium of chalk. This substantial work measures 38 3/4 by 51 3/8 inches (98.4 x 130.4 cm) and is classified as a landscape genre. It is located at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

In examining the artwork, one is immediately struck by the arresting naturalism and raw beauty of the scene. Courbet’s masterful use of lighting and shadow brings a tangible presence to the rugged textures of rock and the shimmering vitality of the water. The carefully observed play of light on the glistening wet surfaces creates a sense of depth and motion, effectively conveying the tranquil yet powerful presence of the Loue River’s source.

The composition features a cave opening where the water emerges, framed by rocks and architectural elements that seem to blend into the environment. A wooden structure, perhaps a bridge or platform, adds a sense of human presence to the otherwise untamed scene. The brushwork is loose and expressive, characteristic of Courbet’s style, and this handling gives the chalk medium a surprisingly dynamic and fluid expression.

Overall, Courbet’s “The Source of the Loue” is a testament to the artist’s ability to evoke the spirit of a place, asserting the power and grandeur of the natural world through the lens of Realism.

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