An invitation to discomfort. Following a diagonal path, the viewer’s gaze is drawn past the apparently abandoned houses in the sparse, wintry scene. A steep rock massif abruptly cuts off the view. It represents the Jura Mountains, the location of Gustave Courbet’s home town of Ornans. The harshness of the landscape is underlined by the impasto application of paint; the medium is emphasised more than the figurative content. As a landscapist, Courbet served the Impressionists as an important role model. He and Claude Monet met in 1862, and in 1870 Courbet was best man at Monet’s wedding.
Benedikt Moritz Goldschmidt’s (1831–1906) heirs arranged for this bequest. Goldschmidt belonged to an established Jewish family of bankers. One of his relatives was Maximilian Benedikt Hayum von Goldschmidt-Rothschild (1843–1940), who had been ennobled in 1903 and who was considered the wealthiest Jew in the Wilhelmine Empire. By comparison, Benedikt Moritz Goldschmidt’s fortune of eighteen million marks was modest. The unassuming and sophisticated art lover was joint proprietor of the bank Moritz B. Goldschmidt.
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