Courbet’s Grotte de la Source Enneige (c.1866)

This painting like many of Courbet's images of caves and the sources of rivers consists of a dark hole with rock swirling around it in the form of an eye. In this case the rock on the right can be seen as the bone at the top of the nose, the rest of the nose theoretically descending under the snow-covered ground. The sweep of the rock in the top left corner also suggests the shape of skin above a right eye facing us. It is, metaphorically, the artist's eye with darkness suggesting insight. Water flowing out of rock was a fertile symbol for Courbet.

Captions for image(s) above:

Courbet, Grotte de la Source Enneige (c. 1866) Oil on canvas. Musée Gustave Courbet d’Ornans.

Click image to enlarge.

See other landscape paintings by Courbet for similar use of the human form as well as examples on this website by Durer, Leonardo, Corot and Van Gogh.


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