Skip to content Skip to footer

At the Source: A Courbet Landscape Rediscovered at the Arthur Ross Gallery

February 4–May 28, 2023

The Arthur Ross Gallery at the University of Pennsylvania announced that a rediscovered Gustave Courbet painting, unseen for nearly 100 years, will be unveiled in At the Source: A Courbet Landscape Rediscovered, which will be on view from February 4–May 28, 2023.

Courbet’s painting depicting the Lison River’s source in France, near his birthplace, was discovered in storage at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine in 2016. Gustave Courbet’s The Source of the Lison (La Source du Lison), 1864 oil on canvas, is a donation from Philadelphia-born Thomas W. Evans in 1912.

In 1847, Thomas W. Evans started a dental clinic in Paris, France, and became Napoléon III’s and Empress Eugénie’s surgeon dentist. He first used nitrous oxide as an anesthetic in the European medical and dental societies in 1867. Evans was well-known for his gold-foil fillings, vulcanite dentures, and orthodontic procedures, and he treated royalty from the United Kingdom to Turkey. Evans was also active in French and American politics. Evans left the majority of his fortune to the Thomas W. Evans Museum and Institute Society in Philadelphia when he died in 1897. The Society and the University of Pennsylvania reached an agreement in 1912 to create the Thomas W. Evans Museum and Dental Institute near the intersection of 40th and Spruce Streets, which opened in February 1915. Penn Dental Medicine celebrated its 100th anniversary of its establishment in 2015.

The Lison’s source was preserved in 2016, scientifically evaluated in 2018, and authenticated in April 2022 by the Institut Courbet (Ornans, France). At the Source: A Courbet Landscape Rediscovered, curated by Lynn Marsden-Atlass, Executive Director of the Arthur Ross Gallery and University Curator, and André Dombrowski, Frances Shapiro-Weitzenhoffer Associate Professor of 19th-Century European Art at the University of Pennsylvania, highlights the infamous painter’s modern landscape practice, focusing on the motifs of grottos and waterfalls in his art of the 1850s and 1860s.

The show is complemented by a substantial catalogue that includes new scholarship by top Courbet scholars such as Petra ten-Doesschate Chu, Aruna D’Souza, Paul Galvez, and Mary Morton. It places Courbet’s contemporary landscapes in the context of nineteenth-century plein-air painting. The exhibition includes the podcast Big Art Energy, which follows the journey of Courbet’s Source du Lison from the dental school basement to the Arthur Ross Gallery.

About the Arthur Ross Gallery
The University of Pennsylvania’s Arthur Ross Gallery promotes scholarship, cooperation, and outreach via direct connection with original art and artifacts. The Gallery, which exhibits work from a variety of media, times, cultures, and traditions, serves as a valuable educational and cultural resource for students, professors, academics, artists, and the local and regional communities.