COURBET, Gustave
(b. 1819, Ornans, d. 1877, La Tour-de-Peilz)

The Origin of the World

Oil on canvas, 46 x 55 cm
Musée d'Orsay, Paris

This painting, made for Khalil Bey who already owned Ingres's Turkish Bath (1862), is certainly Courbet's most mysterious and fascinating picture. Before it entered the Musée d'Orsay in 1995, the painting had rarely if at all been exhibited. Its technique and subject set it quite apart from the vast numbers of more conventional nudes painted in the nineteenth century.