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Mother and Child on a Hammock
(c. 1844), Gustave Courbet
A gem of a hitherto unpublished early Courbet, this fresh and affectionate familial scene contrasts strikingly with the eroticism of The Hammock and later paintings. Although there is no proof, it would appear to represent the artist’s mistress Virginie Binet, who bore him a son in 1847 but left him in 1852. After her marriage, Courbet wrote that his ‘spirit is sad and soul is empty, the liver and heart devoured by bitterness’.