Gustave Courbet’s “The Source of the Loue” is part of a series of four paintings created in 1864. The artwork depicts rocky crags and grottos with a river flowing underneath them, showcasing Courbet’s expertise in using a palette knife to apply pigment. As an artist, Courbet was known for painting rustic scenery and simple peasants from his native Ornans, a village in the remote Franche-Comté region.
Courbet challenged traditional art concepts by showcasing these subjects with dignity and on the grand scale usually reserved for history paintings. The Loue River, located in eastern France, was painted several times by Courbet, showing his fascination with the beautiful scenery of his homeland.
“The Source of the Loue” is housed at Kunsthalle Hamburg; however, it is not the only work related to Courbet’s connection to this river. His love for Irish beauty Joanna Hiffernan inspired him to create a series of four portraits titled “Jo, La Belle Irlandaise,” completed between 1865 and 1866. Some believe that Hiffernan was also the model for another famous painting by Courbet called “L’Origine du Monde.”