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Gustave Courbet, 'Young Ladies on the Bank of the Seine'

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Courbet exhibited a larger version of this composition at the Paris Salon of 1857 (now in the Musée du Petit Palais, Paris). A number of studies for the Salon painting survive, among which this work is generally included.

The version exhibited at the Salon provoked a scandal caused mainly by Courbet's choice of subject. He undermined the traditionally accepted portrayal of women within a natural setting by the obvious and deliberate modernity of his city girls. The foreground figure's display of her undergarments and knowing gaze make her a more shocking subject than if she were depicted nude.

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