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A River in a Mountain Gorge

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A River in a Mountain Gorge About 1864

Not on display

From the mid-1860s Courbet produced a number of landscapes depicting the dramatic scenery near his native town of Ornans in the Jura mountains. The exact location for this picture has not been identified, but is presumably the upper reaches of the Doubs river or one of its tributaries, such as the Loue or the Conche. Courbet was fascinated by the huge waterfalls and deep gorges which formed in the limestone rocks. He would venture into the mountains to paint out of doors, using his donkey Jérôme to carry his materials. Courbet’s uncompromising view of nature and bold technique, making frequent use of the palette knife, had an important influence on the next generation of landscape painters, particularly the young Impressionists.

Glossary Open


An influential style of painting that originated in France in the 1870s with artists such as Claude Monet, Pierre-August Renoir and Alfred Sisley. They were interested in capturing the changing effects of light, frequently exploring this through landscape scenes painted in the open air.

Palette knife

A small tool used for mixing and applying paint.

Impressionism, Palette knife


  • Acc. No. NG 2232
  • Medium Oil on canvas
  • Size 81.40 x 64.70 cm (framed: 109.85 x 93.98 x 12.70 cm)
  • Credit Presented by Sir Alexander Maitland in memory of his wife Rosalind, 1960