For so long, we only knew her intimate parts. But the face and identity of the person who posed for Gustave Courbet’s 'L’Origine du Monde' has been revealed, 152 years later.
This is a mystery that has lasted for 152 years, but it has finally been solved! The identity of the woman whose anatomy was painted by Gustave Courbet in ‘L’Orgine du Monde’ has just been revealed. And we even know what her face looks like! Her name is Constance Quéniaux, sometimes written Quéniau as French newspaper Le Parisien points out, a former opera dancer.
A misunderstood word
Claude Schopp, a specialist of Alexandre Dumas, solved the enigma whose details are revealed in a book that will be released on October 4th. He studied the correspondence between Alexandre Dumas fils and George Sand in detail, and one letter, in particular, caught his attention.
Alexandre Dumas fils makes fun of the painter Gustave Courbet, to whom he was politically opposed. ‘One does not paint the most delicate and the most sonorous interview of Miss Queniault of the Opera,’ he wrote to his friend George Sand. An incomprehensible sentence, and for good reason!
Claude Schopp discovered that it did not say ‘interview’ in the letter but… ‘interior!’ Which at the time did not refer to someone’s home but to their intimacy.
According to Sylvie Aubenas, director of the prints and photography department of the National Library of France who was questioned by AFP, claims that they ‘are 99% sure that the Courbet model was indeed Constance Quéniaux.’ When comparing the hair depicted on the canvas to the black hair and eyebrows of the model, it seems we've got a match. The first owner of the painting was none other than Constance Quéniaux's lover.