The Musée Courbet’s permanent collection comprises approximately 400 works including around 60 by the artist.
They are displayed in line with the arrival or departure of works for loan and deposits from public or private collections.
Thanks to its diversity, this collection offers a fascinating overview of all facets of Courbet’s work.
From works painted during his youth (The Bridge at Nahin, 1837) to those evoking the circles in which the painter moved (Portrait of Lydie Jolicler, 1869; Portrait of Urbain Cuénot, 1847), the museum’s collection also focuses on many of Courbet’s favourite themes such as animal paintings (The Calf, 1873), hunting scenes (Fox Caught in a Trap, 1860), seascapes, to which a whole room is devoted, and of course the landscapes of Franche-Comté (The Oak of Flagey, 1864). Finally, the difficult period at the end of his life is also covered, including the Paris Commune (Self-Portrait at Sainte-Pélagie, circa 1872) and his exile in Switzerland (Château de Chillon, 1874).
The items on display also include letters, drawings and prints, but also sculptures, making it possible to gain a more intimate understanding of Courbet.
So-called “ MNR” works
At the end of the Second World War, many works recovered in Germany were returned to France, as a number of clues (archive references, descriptions, etc.) indicated that they originally came from there. Most of these works stolen by the Nazis were quickly returned to their owners. Others were sold by their heirs and others were entrusted to the nation’s museums. They comprise what is referred to as the MNR, “Musées Nationaux Récupération” – National Museums Recoveries Register – (source: Base Rose Valland).
These works enjoy a particular status all their own. They are placed under the responsibility of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and their conservation and management are assigned to the Ministry of Culture and Communication while awaiting their return to their rightful owners or their heirs.
By ministerial order of 19 January 1953, the Musée Gustave Courbet became the custodian of one of these works. This is the painting Vue d’Ornans or Le Miroir d’Ornans, presented as part of the museum’s permanent collection, in room 14.
Vue d’Ornans or Le Miroir d’Ornans (Reflection of Ornans), circa 1872
Oil painting on canvas, 50.3 x 61.1 cm without frame; 72 x 82 cm with frame
MNR 181 – A painting recovered at the end of the Second World War, deposited on 19 January 1953 by the Musée du Louvre;
awaiting return to its rightful owners. MNR 181
To submit a request concerning an MNR item, you should write to the following address:
Direction générale des Patrimoines
Service des musées de France
6 rue des Pyramides