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Fine & Decorative Art

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot

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Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot

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Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (1796-1875) was born in the closing years of the 18th century. Corot was trained in the Neo-Classical style that dominated French art in the early 19th century, before embracing the naturalistic Barbizon style of landscape painting.

During the mid 1860’s Corot was the house guest of the artist Wallet at Voisinlieu, on the Thérain river, near Marissel. There he painted Voisinlieu, Dans le Parc de M. Wallet, portraying the garden of his friend Wallet along the river.

Water winds through the garden, while the curving trunks of the trees along the bank echo it. Flowing water reflects the sylvan surroundings. In the background friends sit on a bench facing away, looking further into the distance, the bench providing a focal point lending depth to the image. Skillfully executed foliage with hints of red, and a delicately painted sky contribute to the effect.

Voisinlieu, Dans le Parc de M. Wallet is included in Arthur Robaut’s catalog raisonne. In Robaut’s catalog the painting is pictured and is Number 1375. Robaut gives a creation date of 1865 for the work, which was originally owned by Wallet’s daughter. Superior composition, refined brushwork, exceptional coloration, deep impasto, and continued provenance elevate this landscape to a high stature among Corot’s paintings.

Corot is considered one of the masters of the French landscape. His career spanned a time of change in the art of painting. Foremost, in the elevation of landscape as a major form of artistic expression, supplanting the previous taste for historical paintings and portraiture as art of the first order. Corot was an influential artist of the Barbizon School, an outgrowth of Romanticism which advocated close observation of nature, a realistic rather than idealized approach, and greater spontaneity with the artist often painting en plein air.

The Forest of Fountainebleau, located near the village of Barbizon, became a favored setting for the new generation of landscape painters. Somewhat paradoxically, the Forest of Fountainebleau had become more accessible due to advances in transportation. Corot began painting there in the early 1820s, returning repeatedly through the 1830s. Corot was associated with other Barbizon School artists such as Théodore Rousseau, Paul Huet, Constant Troyon, Jean-François Millet, and Charles-François Daubigny. Traveling to Rome in 1825 and remaining three years, Corot is also justly famous for his sun filled images of the Italian landscape surrounding the city.

He lived into the beginning of the Impressionist Period, and was an inspiration to the younger Impressionist artists. In 1897, Claude Monet exclaimed “There is only one master here – Corot. We are nothing compared to him, nothing.”