ART. Passionate about the work of artist Gustave Courbet, the couple donates part of their collection to the Courbet museum in Ornans in the Doubs.

Marie and Bernard Cola, a couple from Franche-Comté, have donated part of their exceptional and original collection of documents on the life and work of artist Gustave Courbet to the Musée d’Ornans (Doubs). 115 rare books, sales catalogs and other very useful documents for research.

The spacious hall of the Ferme de Flagey in Doubs is a mess. The entire team of the Courbet d’Ornans museum is busy presenting the next exhibition presented at the Courbet family home. A special original exhibition inspired by the important donation of Marie and Bernard Cola to the Courbet museum.

Auction catalogs of the period, illustrations, accounts of Gustave Courbet’s (1819-1877) contemporaries highlight the commercial strategy of the artist, who was the forerunner of modernity. Bernard and Marie Cola came to Ferme de Flagey to tell us their story. An opportunity to once again browse through what they have spent years putting together in their collection.

From December 10, 2022 to April 23, 2023, the “Buy Courbet” exhibition will explain what the artist was like. “He uses many channels to achieve his stated goal: to sell his art and make a living” says the museum.

The museum staff delicately places the works on the tables before placing them in the display cases. These writings, these caricatures, these illustrations, the hammer prices scratched in the auction catalogs, all these show us how “entrepreneurial artist” Courbet was.

Although some of the documents on display come from the exhibition’s partner, the Institut Courbet, most of these exhibits were unearthed by Bernard and Marie Cola. The name of the next farm fair really has a double meaning. Buy Courbet in the artist’s era, buy Courbet in the 21st century to create an original collection.

In the middle of last summer, the Comtois couple officially donated 115 documents from their collection to the museum. Marie and Bernard Cola could have bought a house in the south on vacation at the end of the world, but they chose to live their passion for Gustave Courbet.

It all started 15 years ago, during a vacation in the south, the couple went to an art gallery and fell in love with a small painting representing a waterfall, as we often see in Franche-Comté. A beautiful waterfall by Gustave Courbet. “ We thought that Courbets were all in museums. I was told in the previous meeting. Here they are at home with the Ordnance master’s painting. The couple not only admires the canvas, but also wants to understand the artist.

As we are not experts in the art of the 19th century, in the painting of Gustave Courbet, we tried to gather testimonies through books to get an idea of ​​his painting, but also, above all, of the man. We told ourselves that by understanding the man, perhaps we can understand his painting. Bernard Cola

Bernard Cola, collector and donor

Appropriate and methodical approach. Because their “thunder” they search in booksellers, on the Internet, in auction rooms and find treasure. First editions, rarities, nothing escapes them. “Looking is a pleasure” Bernard Cola admitted.

By day, the manager of a construction company spends his evenings and weekends searching for rare pearls. It becomes a passion. The couple decided to donate 115 documents from the 400 books, engravings, and satirical magazines that were bought. An important donation that gave the curator of the Courbet Benjamin Foudral museum the idea of ​​organizing this exhibition. Over the years, the couple developed a relationship with him and the museum team. The donation was clearly placed on them.

It is exciting to see all these works brought together. They will continue to live, they will be able to get advice from everyone.

Marie Cola, collector and donor

By spring, these books, covering current events around Courbet between 1850 and 1950, will be available to those who request them in a brand new documentation center at the Courbet Center. The website will provide a list of available jobs. The museum’s collection will also include, for example, notarial documents and a set of books on 19th-century art.

There will only be one place to go to research internationally. This is amazing! Marie and Bernard Cola collected documents that could not be found for many.

Thierry Savatier, art historian

These ingots also appear in pieces from the Courbet Museum’s permanent collection. The curator of the museum, Benjamin Foudral, carefully placed the works from Cola’s donation in several rooms of the museum.

Take a look at the catalog of the 1860 Universal Exhibition at Besançon. Courbet presents 12 canvases for this occasion. We see colorful caricatures of Courbet returning to the country.

A statue of Leboeuf representing the artist is also drawn. In the next room, visitors can admire the statue.

The book placed on its chair, right in the middle of the room, gives a very special comfort to the paintings that surround it. Portraits of the women of Franche-Comté, view of Ornans. Here visitors “write” how his country remained a constant source of his art throughout his career” Benjamin Foudral explains.

A suspension will complete this period of work as all of his research and knowledge informs our work as curators in the selection of these suspensions. This allows you to provide small additional reading buttons that are not necessarily found in front of the works.

Benjamin Foudral, curator-director of the museum and the Courbet center

If visitors to the permanent collection are careful enough to read the inscriptions, these small explanatory plaques placed next to the works, they will discover that they can try to understand better thanks to the insight and generosity of Marie and Bernard Colan. but also the specific intentions of Gustave Courbet.

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