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Head of a Woman and Flowers

Gustave Courbet, French, 1819 - 1877

Object Details
Possibly purchased from the artist by Durand-Ruel, Paris, February 1872 [1]; sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, December 6, 1876, no. 21 (bought in?); sale of pictures sequestered from Courbet's studio, ordered by the French government, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, November 26, 1877, no. 5; purchased by William Merritt Chase (1849-1916), Philadelphia (?) [2]. Berlencourt collection; sale, Berlencourt, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, February 25, 1889, no. 32 (as "Femme et Fleurs"). [Possibly sale, Christie's, London, April 6, 1934, no. 125 (as "Contemplation"), to Emeric Hahn] [3]. With Julius H. Weitzner, Inc., New York, by 1936 [4]; sold to Louis E. Stern, New York, by March 1940 [5]; bequest to PMA, 1963.1. As "Femme lisant une lettre, devant des dahlias"; see Georges Riat, Courbet (Paris, 1906), p. 330-331. See also Charles Léger, Courbet (Paris, 1929), p. 169 ("Dahlias et Femme lisant une lettre d'amour"). The painting was in Courbet's studio in 1877, although it may have actually still belonged to Durand-Ruel.2. According to Fernier, La vie et l'oeuvre de Gustave Courbet: catalogue raisonné (Lausanne, 1978), vol. 2, no. 783. It is unclear how William Merritt Chase purchased the painting at the Paris auction since he was in Venice in November 1877, and he left for New York in the spring of 1878. The catalogue of the PMA exhibition, "Gustave Courbet" (1959-60), cat. no. 78, states that Chase's sons sold it to a dealer after his death in 1916, which conflict's with Fernier's information that it was sold from the Berlencourt collection in 1889.3. A Courbet painting is listed in this sale with the title "Contemplation", the title under which the PMA painting was exhibited by Julius Weitzner in 1936 (see below). However, the painting in the Christie's sale is described as being on panel rather than canvas and the dimensions given are slightly larger. According to Art Prices Current, n.s. v. 13 (1933-34), no. 3788, the purchaser at the sale was Emeric Hahn. Another indication of a possible London connection with the PMA painting is a transport label on the back reading J. Chenue, French Packer, London, with the name "Matthiesen" written in. This may be the Matthiesen Gallery, whose London branch opened in 1934; however, its records were destroyed in WWII (communication from Patrick Matthiesen, 31 August 2004, in curatorial file).4. Exhibited at Julius H. Weitzner, Inc., "A Selection of Paintings," New York, 1936, no. 30 (as "Contemplation"). Weitzner gives the Chase provenance.5. In a letter to Stern dated March 14, 1940 (PMA archives, Stern files), Weitzner mentions Stern's recent acquisition of the painting.

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