Gustave Courbet: Jo, the Beautiful Irish Girl

Gustave Courbet: Jo, the Beautiful Irish Girl

Gustave Courbet (1819-77), the French Realist painter, created four versions of this with minor differences while staying in Trouville in 1865 with fellow artists James McNeil Whistler and Joanna Hiffernan, the Irish sitter for the portraits.

Jo is painted examining her luxuriant red hair and complexion in a mirror at close proximity to the picture plane yet is unaware of the viewer. Not only is she viewing her reflection but her expression is tinged with a sad absorption, perhaps even a premonition of the destructive forces of aging.

Gustave Courbet’s Jo, the Beautiful Irish Girl is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the National Museum in Stockholm, the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas as well as the final in a private collection.

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