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Vase of Lilacs, Roses, and Tulips

Vase of Lilacs, Roses, and Tulips, 1863

Gustave Courbet
French, 1819-1877
Oil on canvas
25-5/8 x 21-3/8 in. (65.1 x 54.3 cm)
Norton Simon Art Foundation
© Norton Simon Art Foundation

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Best remembered for the incendiary politics and technique of his early peasant pictures, Courbet was not above painting for the market. Between May 1862 and May 1863, while a guest at the country estate of Étienne Baudry, a collector and amateur horticulturist, the artist turned out an accomplished series of flower still lifes with frankly commercial intentions. Mixing exotic blooms from Baudry’s greenhouses with flowers from his gardens, Courbet created compositions that defy the seasons, presenting spring tulips and lilacs alongside summer poppies and nasturtiums. The results recall seventeenth-century Dutch flower paintings, coveted by nineteenth-century collectors.

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