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Museum pours scorn on Courbet nude's head find claim

Reuters/Jacky Naegelen

Paris’s Musée d’Orsay has slammed claims that an unsigned painting of a woman’s head is part of one of its most notorious exhibits, Gustave Courbet’s L’Origine du Monde (The Origin of the World).


“L’Origine du Monde has not lost its head,” the Musée d'Orsay declared in response to an article in Paris-Match magazine that claimed that a painting bought in a Paris antique had been cut from Courbet’s work.

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The magazine claimed that the painting, which now belongs to a man it calls “John”, could be worth 40 million euros if the claim proves to be true.

But the museum trashed the claim by Courbet expert Jean-Jacques Fernier as “fantasy”.

Other art critics have laid into Fernier’s claim.

“The stylistic proximity is dubious,” sniffs Le Monde’s art critic Philippe Dagen, adding that the model would have had to have “very low breasts – or a very high throat – and a spine of rare suppleness” to adopt the pose shown in Paris-Match’s reconstitution of the work.

Experts and commentators agreed with Dagen in Le Figaro, La Tribune de l’Art and the Nouvel Observateur (twice).

Fernier remains unfazed.

“There’ll always be people who kick up a fuss,” he commented on Friday

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