The Bridge at Nantes
(70 Kb); Musée du Louvre, Paris
Woman with a Pearl
Oil on canvas (150 Kb), 70 x 55 cm (27 1/2 x 21 1/2");
Musee du Louvre, Paris
View of Genoa
1834 (80 Kb); Oil on paper mounted on canvas; Art Institute of Chicago
Orpheus Leading Eurydice from the Underworld
1861 (180 Kb); Oil on canvas, 112.3 x 137.1 cm (44 1/4 x 54 in);
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas
c. 1866 (120 Kb); Oil on canvas, 132.8 x 97.6 cm (52 1/4 x 38 3/8 in);
The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
At the age of 26 he abandoned a commercial career for art, and from
the first showed a strong vocation for landscape painting. He lived in
Paris, but travelled about France making sketches from nature and from
these he composed in his studio. In addition to his journeys in France,
he visited England, the Low Countries, Switzerland, and Italy three
times (1825-28, 1834, and 1843).
Throughout his life Corot found congenial the advice given to him by
his teacher Achille-Etna Michallon
`to reproduce as scrupulously as possible what I saw in front of me'.
On the other hand he never felt entirely at home with the ideals of the
Barbizon School, the members of which saw
idealization of the countrysite as a form of escapism from urban
banality, and he remained more faithful to the French
tradition than to the English or Dutch schools.
Yet although he continued to make studied compositions after his
sketches done direct from nature, he brought a new and personal poetry
in the Classical tradition of composed landscape and an unaffected
naturalness which had hitherto been foreign to it.
Through he represented nature realistically, he did not idealize the
peasant or the labors of agriculture in the manner of
and was uninvolved in ideological controversy.
From 1827 Corot exhibited regularly at the Salon, but his greatest success
there came with a rather different type of picture -- more traditionally
Romantic in its evocation of an Arcadian past, and painted in a misty
soft-edged style that contrasts sharply with the luminous clarity of his
more topographical work.
Late in his career Corot also turned to figure
painting and it is only fairly recently that this aspect of his work has
emerged from neglect -- his female nudes are often of high quality.
It was, however, his directness of vision that was generally admired by
the major landscape painters of the latter half of the century and
influenced nearly all of them at some stage in their careers.
His popularity was (and is) such that he is said to be the most forged
of all painters (this in addition to an already prolific output).
In his lifetime he was held in great esteem as a man as well as an artist,
for he had a noble and generous nature; he supported Millet's widow,
for example, and gave a cottage to the blind and impoverished
© 26 May 1996,
Nicolas Pioch -
Thanks to the
BMW Foundation, the WebMuseum
and contributors for their support.