Most museums invite you to focus solely on the artworks they display, presenting paintings and sculptures in what are effectively insular, modern white cubes. At the Musée Gustave Courbet however, the uninterrupted views of the Loue valley and the town of Ornans, are arguably as important as the work within.
The hugely influential 19th century French painter Gustave Courbet, believed in painting only what he could see
with his own eyes. In his particular case, this meant the landscape and inhabitants of Ornans in Eastern France, less than an hour’s drive from the Swiss border.
This was where he spent much of his childhood, returning frequently throughout his life and, at the Musée Gustave
Courbet, you can see some 80 paintings, drawings, sculptures and personal artefacts in what was originally his studio on the banks of the River Loue.
“For me,” says assistant curator Claire Bleuze, “what’s really special about the Musée is the fact that you can see Courbet’s work in the midst of the landscape which inspired it. There’s such a strong connection between the views outside the museum and the work within it that you almost feel like you’re inside one of Courbet’s paintings.”
Spread over three buildings, including original 19th farmhouse buildings and sensitively designed contemporary extensions, the Museum not only houses the most important collection of Courbet’s own work but also pieces by his pupils and followers, as well as the work of later artists influenced by him.
The Musée Courbet also stages temporary exhibitions and summer 2018 will see a major show of works by Belgian
symbolist painter Léon Frederic. Frederic was one of the most important figures in Belgian art at the end of the 19th century, moving gradually from realism and naturalism to symbolism, and the exhibition will bring together for the first time over 50 key pieces from both private collections and major international museums. The show will be followed by an exhibition by the museum’s current artist in residence, contemporary Flemish artist Sven Verhaeghe.
Throughout the summer, there will also be talks, concerts and family events. From July to October, admission to both the permanent Courbet collection and the Léon Frederic exhibition will be eight euros, or 12 euros, including a guided tour with the curator.