I love this marvelous video morphing that works really well with Corot’s portraits and almost gives you a feeling on life in the young women. His work is superb and his output was prolific. We are lucky to have so many great works of his to gaze admire.
Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (July 17, 1796 – February 22, 1875) was a French landscape painter and printmaker in etching. Corot was the leading painter of the Barbizon school of France in the mid-nineteenth century. He is a pivotal figure in landscape painting and his vast output simultaneously references the Neo-Classical tradition and anticipates the plein-air innovations of Impressionism.
Camille Corot was born in Paris in 1796, in a house at 125 Rue du Bac, now demolished. His family were bourgeois people—his father was a wigmaker and his mother a milliner—and unlike the experience of some of his artistic colleagues, throughout his life he never felt the want of money, as his parents made good investments and ran their businesses well. After his parents married, they bought the millinery shop where his mother had worked and his father gave up his career as a wigmaker to run the business side of the shop. The store was a famous destination for fashionable Parisians and earned the family an excellent income. Corot was the second of three children born to the family, who lived above their shop during those years.
Corot received a scholarship to study at the Lycée Pierre-Corneille in Rouen,but left after having scholastic difficulties and entered a boarding school. He “was not a brilliant student, and throughout his entire school career he did not get a single nomination for a prize, not even for the drawing classes.” Unlike many masters who demonstrated early talent and inclinations toward art, before 1815 Corot showed no such interest. During those years he lived with the Sennegon family, whose patriarch was a friend of Corot’s father and who spent much time with young Corot on nature walks. It was in this region that Corot made his first paintings after nature. At nineteen, Corot was a “big child, shy and awkward. He blushed when spoken to. Before the beautiful ladies who frequented his mother’s salon, he was embarrassed and fled like a wild thing… Emotionally, he was an affectionate and well-behaved son, who adored his mother and trembled when his father spoke.” When Corot’s parents moved into a new residence in 1817, the 21-year-old Corot moved into the dormer-windowed room on the third floor, which became his first studio as well.
Corot was the leading painter of the Barbizon school of France in the mid-nineteenth century. He is a pivotal figure in landscape painting. His work simultaneously references the Neo-Classical tradition and anticipates the plein-air innovations of Impressionism. Of him Claude Monet exclaimed “There is only one master here—Corot. We are nothing compared to him, nothing.” His contributions to figure painting are hardly less important; Degas preferred his figures to his landscapes, and the classical figures of Picasso pay overt homage to Corot’s influence.
Historians somewhat arbitrarily divided his work into periods, but the point of division is never certain, as he often completed a picture years after he began it. In his early period, he painted traditionally and “tight”—with minute exactness, clear outlines, thin brush work, and with absolute definition of objects throughout. After he reached his 50th year, his methods changed to focus on breadth of tone and an approach to poetic power conveyed with thicker application of paint; and about 20 years later, from about 1865 onwards, his manner of painting became full of mystery and poetry, created with a more impressionistic touch. In part, this evolution in expression can be seen as marking the transition from the plein-air paintings of his youth, shot through with warm natural light, to the studio-created landscapes of his late maturity, enveloped in uniform tones of silver. In his final 10 years he became the “Père (Father) Corot” of Parisian artistic circles, where he was regarded with personal affection, and acknowledged as one of the five or six greatest landscape painters the world had seen, along with Hobbema, Claude Lorrain, Turner and Constable. In his long and productive life, he painted over 3,000 paintings.
Corot approached his landscapes more traditionally than is usually believed. By comparing even his late period tree-painting and arrangements to those of Claude Lorrain, such as that which hangs in the Bridgewater gallery, the similarity in methods is seen. Compared to the Impressionists who came later, Corot’s palette is restrained, dominated with browns and blacks (“forbidden colors” among the Impressionists) along with dark and silvery green. Though appearing at times to be rapid and spontaneous, usually his strokes were controlled and careful, and his compositions well-thought out and generally rendered as simply and concisely as possible, heightening the poetic effect of the imagery. As he stated, “I noticed that everything that was done correctly on the first attempt was more true, and the forms more beautiful.”
In the 1860s, Corot became interested in photography, taking photos himself and becoming acquainted with many early photographers, which had the effect of suppressing his painting palette even more in sympathy with the monochromic tones of photographs. This had the result of making his paintings even less dramatic but somewhat more poetic, a result which caused some critics to cite a monotony in his later output. Théophile Thoré wrote that Corot “has only a single octave, extremely limited and in a minor key; a musician would say. He knows scarcely more than a single time of day, the morning, and a single color, pale grey.” Corot responded:
“What there is to see in painting, or rather what I am looking for, is the form, the whole, the value of the tones…That is why for me the color comes after, because I love more than anything else the overall effect, the harmony of the tones, while color gives you a kind of shock that I don’t like. Perhaps it is the excess of this principal that makes people say I have leaden tones.”
In his aversion to shocking color, Corot sharply diverged from the up-and-coming Impressionists, who embraced experimentation with vivid hues.
In addition to the landscapes (so popular was the late style that there exist numerous forgeries), Corot produced a number of prized figure pictures. While the subjects were sometimes placed in pastoral settings, these were mostly studio pieces, drawn from the live model with both specificity and subtlety. Like his landscapes, they are characterized by a contemplative lyricism, with his late paintings L’Algérienne (Algerian Woman) and La Jeune Grecque (The Greek Girl) being fine examples.Corot painted about fifty portraits, mostly of family and friends. He also painted thirteen reclining nudes, with his Les Repos (1860) strikingly similar in pose to Ingres famous Le Grande Odalisque (1814), but Corot’s female is instead a rustic bacchante. In perhaps his last figure painting, ‘’Lady in Blue’’ (1874), Corot achieves an effect reminiscent of Degas, soft yet expressive. In all cases of his figure painting, the color is restrained and is remarkable for its strength and purity. Corot also executed many etchings and pencil sketches. Some of the sketches used a system of visual symbols—circles representing areas of light and squares representing shadow. He also experimented with the cliché-verre process—a hybrid of photography and engraving. Starting in the 1830s, Corot also painted decorative panels and walls in the homes of friends, aided by his students.
Corot summed up his approach to art around 1860, “I interpret with my art as much as with my eye.”
The works of Corot are housed in museums in France and the Netherlands, Britain and America.
With his parents’ support, Corot followed the well-established pattern of French painters who went to Italy to study the masters of the Italian Renaissance and to draw the crumbling monuments of Roman antiquity. A condition by his parents before leaving was that he paint a self-portrait for them, his first. Corot’s stay in Italy from 1825 to 1828 was a highly formative and productive one, during which he completed over 200 drawings and 150 paintings. He worked and traveled with several young French painters also studying abroad who painted together and socialized at night in the cafes, critiquing each other and gossiping. Corot learned little from the Renaissance masters (though later he cited Leonardo da Vinci as his favorite painter) and spent most of his time around Rome and in the Italian countryside. The Farnese Gardens with its splendid views of the ancient ruins was a frequent destination, and he painted it at three different times of the day. The training was particularly valuable in gaining an understanding of the challenges of both the mid-range and panoramic perspective, and in effectively placing man-made structures in a natural setting. He also learned how to give buildings and rocks the effect of volume and solidity with proper light and shadow, while using a smooth and thin technique. Furthermore, placing suitable figures in a secular setting was a necessity of good landscape painting, to add human context and scale, and it was even more important in allegorical landscapes. To that end Corot worked on figure studies in native costume as well as nude. During winter, he spent time in a studio but returned to work outside as quickly as weather permitted. The intense light of Italy posed considerable challenges, “This sun gives off a light that makes me despair. It makes me feel the utter powerlessness of my palette.” He learned to master the light and to paint the stones and sky in subtle and dramatic variation.
Source : Wikipedia