The Origin Of The World Painting or so-called “L’Origine du monde” is definitely a masterpiece created by Gustave Courbet in 1866. The drawing is drawn with oil on canvas. It’s truly a game-changer that has challenged the perceived values of erotic art.
The painting depicts in a close-up view the genitals and the abdomen of a naked woman, whose name is isn’t 100% known yet. The lack of head, arms, and hair in the picture highlights the eroticism in this artwork.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ve gathered some awesome facts about the painting L’Origine du monde. So sit back, relax, and keep reading if you want to know the vast amount of fascinating things this illustration went through.
The Woman Behind The Stage
Many experts suppose the women posing for this particular painting is Joanna Hiffernan. Also widely popular as Jo. Her lover at the time was the American painter and artist James Whistler, who was also a close friend to Courte.
Most experts speculate that Jo has likewise posed in four portraits of Courte, entitled La Belle Irlandaise.
There is also speculation about Joanna having an affair with Courbet. This explains the sudden separation between Courte and the American artist Whistler. There is a high possibility that she was the model sitting for The Origin Of The World Painting. However, some experts disagree with this statement, since the women depicted on the portrait is with dark hair, contrary to Jo’s red hair.
The Upper Part
In 2013, there was a report from Paris Match. It states that Courbet expert critics have authenticated a drawing of a young beautiful woman’s head and shoulders. There is a statement saying that this painting could be the upper part of the woman that poses for The Origin Of The World. According to some people, this upper part illustration was on purpose severed from the masterpiece L’Origine du monde. Fernier, one of Courbet’s experts, has made that statement after two years of in-depth analysis of both paintings. The upper part of the whole art will be added to the next edition Courbet catalog raisonné.
A report has been made by The Daily Telegraph stating that two portraits could be aligned via grooves made by the original and authentic wooden frame and lines in the canvas itself. That’s why many people believe the discovered upper portrait is part of The Origin Of The World.
The First Owner
It is believed that the first owner of The Origin Of The World was the Ottoman diplomat Halil Serif Pasha (Khalil Bey). He was introduced to Courbet shortly after he arrived in Paris and saw most of his artworks. Right after, Halil Pasha definitely wanted to add a picture from Courbet to his erotic collection of portraits. That collection already included Le Bain turc from Ingres. Actually, the Ottoman diplomat possessed two images of Courbet’s series. One was the Origin Of The World, and the other was Le Sommeil (The Sleepers). The Sleepers was another fascinating artwork from Gustave, where Hifferman was again one of the models.
But due to unfortunate circumstances, the finances of Khalil Bey were annihilated from gambling. After that, the famous painting (L’Origine Du Monde) went through a series of private collections.
The second man who was able to possess one of Courte’s artworks was an antique dealer, named Antoine de la Narde. He acquired The Origin Of The World Painting on a sale of Khalil Bey’s collection in 1868.
The next owner was a guy who stumbled upon the painting in an antique shop in 1889, hidden behind a wooden panel. From there onward, the painting was bought and traded a couple of times by different antique dealers. Towards the end of World War II, the famous Courte’s artwork was collected by Soviet troops but later redeemed by Hatvany.
When Hatvany left Hungary, he was allowed to take only 1 artwork with himself, and he chose L’Origine du monde.
Later in time, in 1955 the painting was sold during an auction for about 1.5 million francs; $4,285 at the time, quite a substantial sum. The freshest owner of the portrait was the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan. He, accompanied by his wife, installed the painting in his country house in Guitrancourt. Lacan asked his step-brother for a service. He wanted him to make a double bottom frame from the art and draw another one. His step-brother was Andre Masson. And yes, he did paint a picture quite similar to The Origin Of The World.
Most recently, the painting was included in the Gustave Courbet gallery of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2008.
The Origin Of The World is absolutely one of Courbet’s most magnificent paintings. It caused significant changes in erotic art.
During the 19th century, the eroticism went through significant shifts. Most of which were caused by the great artists Courbet and Manet, and their fascinating masterpieces.
Courbet had a unique approach to art, and his artworks speak for itself. He rejected academic paintings and its smooth and perfected nudes. He was more of a realistic artist, and he liked the things in their true nature. But this doesn’t mean he approved pornography. In fact, he also rejected it.
Due to his love for Realism, Courbet pushed the boundaries of erotic artworks. He created the masterpiece (The Origin Of The World) which then seemed like a contradiction to the perceived values of art. Actually, most people today find his artworks quite amusing.
There were critics back in the days, and even now, arguing that the body highlighted in the painting is not a body of an actual living woman, but of a corpse. What critics state is that LÓrigine du monde doesn’t represent the full body of an alive female. Instead, critics claim it depicts a sliced body of a corpse. That’s why they believe human parts of the body such as head, arms, and shoulders are cut from the portrait.
Inspiration And Influence
Despite critics, the artwork of Courte (The Origin Of The World) served and still serves as a massive inspiration to new and aspiring artists. For example, one of the latest significant works of Marcel Duchamp features a female body lying on her back with spread legs. Which is considered to be inspired by the authentic L’Origine du monde by Gustave Courte.
An exciting and again quite an amusing painting (The Origin Of War) similar to the L’Origine du monde was made by the French artist Orlan in 1989. He depicts a portrait in the same position as The Origin Of The World. However, this time, a man is posing for the painting showing a penile erection.
Jacques Henricus, in 1994, reproduced The Origin Of The World on its novel cover Adorations perpétuelles (Perpetual Adorations). Later, police visited all bookstores featuring the book and made them withdraw the novel from their windows.
The L’Origine du monde also inspired Mexico artists to create the Two Origins Of The World in 2000.
A 26 minutes movie was made in 1996 by Jean-Paul Fargier that is based upon the famous painting of Courte.
Another inspiration was taken by The Origin Of The World which made into a homage to the painting by the American artist Jack Dawn. Named “Origins of The World,” the homage sums up pornographic photographs, framed in a montage.
Another British artist named Anish Kapoor created an installation referring to Courte’s painting. The installation takes place in the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa in Japan.
Because of its provocative aspects, many artists who have been inspired by this amazing masterpiece has gotten into trouble. Many artists have been censored due because their content like this painting provokes negative discussions among culture and society. An example of this can be seen in the film of Catherine Breillat and the artwork of Deborah De Robertis.
Some experts say that the portrait plays a considerable role in filming the movie Anatomy of Hell by Catherine Breillat. In this unusual movie, female genitals are mainly displayed.
Another astonishing fact that concerns Catherine Breillat is that in Brage, Portugal in 2009, the police have confiscated Catherine’s book Pornocaterie from bookshops throughout the city. This result is due to the book featuring “The Origin Of The World” on its cover. Portuguese law has strict rules and forbids public displays of pornography and erotic pictures.
Facebook censored The Origin Of The World in 2011. That’s because it was shared on the widely-known social platform by the Copenhagen artist Frode Steinicke. Yet, many people understood about this incident. Therefore, they changed their profile pictures, illustrating Courte’s masterpiece – L’Origine du monde.
Deborah De Robertis, a Luxembourg performance artist, sat in front of the painting and mimicked the view of the subject. This quickly resulted in the police escorting her and arrested her after.
The Painting As A Whole
The Origin Of The World is definitely a state-of-the-art no matter all the critics toward it. The painting is one of the most popular and world-renowned scandal portraits that literally amuses everyone who sees it.
Many books feature L’Origine du monde on their covers. Many similar paintings were made due to the inspiration the Courbet’s famous painting brings to new and aspiring artists. If you didn’t hear about The Origin Of The World before, this guide has summed up everything essential that concerns Courte’s painting.
If you’re an artist, then you definitely want to look up to this painting and take inspiration if erotic artworks are the kind of work you do.