Discover all 14 City of Paris museums

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Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot - Marietta, or Roman Odalisque
Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux - Mademoiselle Fiocre
Louis-Ferdinand  Lachassaigne - Vase - Van Dyck painting his first canvas
Charles Durand dit Carolus-Duran - Mademoiselle de Lancey
Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres - Francis I Receives the Last Breaths of Leonardo da Vinci
Eugène Delacroix - Combat of the Giaour and the Pasha
Jacob Mardochée known as Jacob Petit - Mameluke clock
Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux - Buste de Samuel Welles de La Valette
Gustave Courbet - Courbet au chien noir
Édouard Manet - Portrait of Théodore Duret
Louis Léopold Boilly - Portrait of Mademoiselle Athénaïs d’Albenas
Paul Gauguin - Old Man with a Stick
Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux - Ugolino
Jan  Van Beers   - Les funérailles de Charles le Bon, Comte de Flandre, célébrées à Bruges dans l’église Saint-Christophe le 22 avril 1127
Gustave Courbet - La sieste pendant la saison des foins (montagne du Doubs)
Alfred de Dreux - Portrait of Mr and Mrs Mosselman and their two daughters
Jean-Désiré Ringel d'Illzach - Portrait of Jeanne et Mrs Albert Dammouse
Octave  Penguilly L’Haridon  - Côtes de Belleville
Gustave Doré - The Vale of Tears
Gustave Doré - L’Ascension
Camille  Pissarro - Le Pont Royal et le Pavillon de Flore
Paul Delaroche - Portrait d'Horace Delaroche
Théobald Chartran - Priam asking Achilles for the return of Hector's body
 Escalier de cristal - Ecran de cheminée

The Sleepers

Ornans (Doubs), 1819 - La Tour-de-Peilz (Swiss), 1877
Oil on canvas
135 x 200 cm

Courbet, who paved the way for Realism in the mid-19th century, remained on the fringes of official art thanks to the support of a few collectors. He asserted his originality through his depictions of women in particular.
Nudes with lifelike flesh shocked visitors to the Salon who were used to the white, smooth nymphs of academic painting. This painting, one of Courbet’s masterpieces, is emblematic of the world of reverie and bliss of the painter who jubilantly celebrated the beauty of the body.

Painted specially for the diplomat Khalil-Bey, The Sleepers directly entered a private collection, without having to face the censure of the Salon. This type of transaction would be repeated with the delivery of the highly confidential Origin of the World to the same collector (Paris, Musée d’Orsay). A Turkish emissary based in Paris since 1860, Khalil-Bey assembled a fine set of paintings from his own century. He bought works by Delacroix, Chassériau and Rousseau with discernment, often through the intermediary of the dealer Durand-Ruel. The collector acquired Ingres’ ultimate masterpiece, The Turkish Bath (Paris, Louvre Museum), and was particularly interested in Courbet as a painter of women and sensuality.

Flattering his patron’s taste, the painter returned to a boudoir subject harking back to the licentious engravings and literary evocations of lesbian love. Playing on the contrast between complexions and hair colour, he represents two types of beauty intertwined in a tangle of silky sheets. The contemporary aspect of the life-size scene echoes Manet’s Olympia (Paris, Musée d’Orsay), a painting in a very similar format to that of The Sleepers which caused a great scandal at the Salon in 1865.

Marks Inscriptions Hall-marks: 
Signed, dated, bottom right G. Courbet, 66
Inventory number: 
Inventory number : PPP03130
Acquisition details : Purchase, 1953
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