J I L L N EWH O U S E
catalogue by Amy Kurlander
expertise by Martin Dieterle Claire Lebeau Jill Newhouse
Jill Newhouse Gallery 4 East 81 st Street New York, NY 10028 Tel ( 212 ) 249-9216 email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.jillnewhouse.com
This catalogue accompanies an exhibition on view from June 5 to July 13, 2012
Jill Newhouse Gallery 4 East 81 st Street New York, NY 10028 Tel ( 212 ) 249-9216 email: email@example.com
I would like to thank everyone who has worked on this project.
Martin Dieterle, my dear friend and mentor in the study of the work of Corot, has given me, and all of us in the art world, the great gift of his keen eye and generous spirit. A painter himself, he brings an instinctive accuracy to judgments of authenticity. His philosophical approach avoids preconception and is always open-minded. We have all learned greatly from him. Claire Lebeau has added her precision and her eye for nuance and detail, as well as her great patience in navigating the waters of authentication. Amy Kurlander wrote her doctoral dissertation on Corot and has added her scholarship to her deep understanding of Corot’s work. I would also like to acknowledge Dr. Margret Stuffmann and Dr. Dorit Schäfer whose major exhibition on the paintings and drawings of Corot opens in Karlsruhe in October 2012 . Their ideas were inspirational in the organization of this show. Christa Savino keeps the gallery running, and to her I am endlessly grateful. Megan Wiessner, also in the gallery, complied Corot’s chronology and handled the details of the loans. Bob Lorenzson has been the gallery’s photographer and Larry Sunden has again organized the design and production of the catalogue. Paper conservation and condition reports were provided by Marjorie Shelley in particular, along with Alan Firkser and Alvarez Fine Art Services. Many of our colleagues have also been of great help and I would personally like to thank Patrick, Louis, Matthieu and Augustin de Bayser and Galerie de Bayser; Antoine Lorenceau, Galerie Brame et Lorenceau; Anisabelle and Florence Berès, Galerie Berès; Arturo and Corinne Cuéllar; Roy Davis and Cecily Langdale; Hubert Duchemin, and Robert Kashey, Shepherd Gallery. Lastly, numerous clients and friends of the gallery who have been kind enough to lend their drawings have asked to remain anonymous; my deepest gratitude to you all, without whom this exhibition would not have been possible. — J.N.
Chronology Compiled by Megan Wiessner (For an extensive chronology, see Paris, Ottawa and New York 1996 , pp. 409 ff.)
Born July 17 in Paris.
After completing secondary studies in Rouen and Poissy, apprentices with cloth merchants in Paris. Becomes more interested in art, however, and begins taking drawing lessons. His parents purchase a country house in Ville d’Avray. His future teacher Achille-Etna Michallon ( 1796 – 1822 ) wins the Grand Prix de Rome for historical landscape. His parents accept his decision to become an artist, and agree to provide a yearly income. Enters Michallon’s studio and spends the summer working outdoors at Fontainebleau, Saint-Cloud, and in Normandy before Michallon’s death in the fall. Joins the studio of landscape painter Jean-Victor Bertin ( 1767 – 1842 ) and works in Fontainebleau and Moret. Begins his first voyage to Italy. Arrives in Rome in December, rents a room near the Piazza di Spagna, paints several views of the city and the Coliseum, and befriends other artists. Works along the Tiber and in the Farnese Gardens. Passes the greater part of the summer in the region of Civita Castellana; stays at Papigno in August and September. Returns to Rome in October. Journeys south of Rome to Lake Albano and Lake Nemi in November, and works in Tivoli in December. In Rome from January to April. Sends two paintings, Vue prise à Narni (National Gallery of Canada, Ottowa) and Campagne de Rome (Kunsthaus, Zurich) to the Salon. Journeys include Lake Albano, Civitella, the Subiaco region, and Civitella Castellana. Returns to Rome in November, and works on large paintings intended for the Salon during the winter of 1827 – 28 . Paints his first historical landscape, Orphée charme les humains.
After a visit to Naples in the spring, and brief stays in Venice and Switzerland, returns to Paris in October.
Visits Normandy and, for the first time, Brittany. Begins painting portraits of friends. Exhibits two Italian views at the Galerie Lebrun in Paris.
Leaves Paris to escape the Revolution of 1830 and visits Chartres, Normandy, and the north of France. Frequents the forest of Fontainebleau, which he will continue to visit for the next two decades. Wins a second-class medal at the Salon for Vue de la forêt de Fontainebleau (also called Le Gué , R II, no. 257 ). Visits Normandy twice and paints more portraits of family members. Begins his second voyage to Italy in May. Visits sites in northern Italy, including San Remo, Genoa, La Spezia, Pisa, Volterra, Florence, Venice, the lake country, and Milan. Returns to Paris in late autumn. Exhibits Agar dans le désert (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York) and Vue prise à Riva, Tyrol italien (Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Munich) at the Salon. Exhibits four paintings at the Salon, including Un moine (Musée du Louvre, Paris) and Le Petit Berger (La Cour d’Or, Musées de Metz), which is bought by the State. The Salon jury accepts two works but rejects L’Incendie de Sodome , resulting in a protest of fellow artists on his behalf. Makes his third and final voyage to Italy between May and September, spending most of his time in or near Rome. Befriends Théodore Rousseau ( 1812 – 1867 ). Resubmits l’Incendie de Sodome, which is accepted by the Salon jury unchanged but with a new title, Le Destruction de Sodome (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York). Visits family and friends, and resides often at Ville d’Avray. Enjoys a growing reputation and the admiration of Charles Baudelaire ( 1821 – 1867 ) and Théophile Thoré ( 1807 – 1869 ) at the Salon. In September, the City of Paris awards him a commission to paint an altarpiece for the church of Saint Nicolas-du-Chardonnay ( Le Baptême du Christ , R. 466 ). Un soir: paysage (J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu) one of Corot’s two Salon paintings, inspires verses by Théophile Gautier.
Continues to travel, spending time in Fontainebleau, Versailles, and Ville d’Avray. Named Chevalier of the Legion of Honor in July.
Eugène Delacroix ( 1798 – 1863 ) visits his studio. Befriends the Arras-based painter and collector Constant Dutilleux ( 1807 – 1865 ), and passes most of the year at Ville d’Avray in order to care for his dying father.
After the Salon jury is reformed, is repeatedly elected by his colleagues and begins to exhibit more paintings each year. The State purchases a number of these works, including Le Bain du Berger (Musée de la Chartreuse, Douai) and Le Christ au Jardin des Oliviers (Musée de Langres).
Death of his mother. Begins to intensify his traveling and to regularly visit Dutilleux in Arras.
At the home of Dutilleux, meets Alfred Robaut ( 1819 – 1909 ), Dutilleux’s future son-in-law and the future author of his catalogue raisonné. Befriends the painter Charles-François Daubigny ( 1817 – 1878 ). Begins to experiment with cliché-verre with the Arras photographers Louis Grandguillaume and Adalbert Cuvelier ( 1812 – 1871 ), the inventors of the technique. Designs more than 60 plates over the course of the next twenty years.
Travels to Belgium and the Netherlands with Dutilleux.
Exhibits six paintings at the Exposition Universelle and receives a first class medal. Emperor Napoleon III purchases Souvenir de Marcoussis (Musée d’Orsay, Paris).
Exhibits an extensively reworked version of his Salon painting of 1844 , Le Destruction de Sodome , under its orginal title, l’Incendie de Sodome, at the Salon.
Places fifty-eight paintings at auction through the appraiser Thirault. Travels include trips to Normandy and Troyes.
Sends a number of ambitious compositions showing figures in the landscape to the Salon. His work is increasingly sought by collectors and dealers and admired by a new generation of open-air painters, many of whom he mentors.
Travels to London for the World’s Fair. Meets Gustave Courbet ( 1819 – 1877 ). Berthe Morisot becomes a student.
Serves as a member of the jury at the Salon. Napoléon III purchases Souvenir de Mortefontaine (Musée du Louvre, Paris).
Stays in Auvers-sur-Oise, Mantes, Fontainebleau, and Normandy. Death of Dutilleux.
Napoleon III purchases Solitude (Private Collection) for his private collection. Paintings by Corot are exhibited in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia.
Exhibits seven important paintings at the Exposition Universelle , receives a medal there and is named an Officer of the Legion of Honor.
Exhibitions in London and Munich. Cancels most travel plans due to poor health.
Working in his studio during the siege of Paris in the Franco Prussian war, he paints Paris incendié par les allemands (location unknown).
Travels and paints continuously, exhibiting both at the Salon and abroad.
Dies of stomach cancer at age 79 on February 22 . A posthumous sale of his studio and his collection is held in May and June of that year, as is a large retrospective at the École des Beaux-Arts.
Corot as Draftsman Amy Kurlander
Over one hundred thirty years after the artist’s death, it is not easy to characterize Corot’s particular achievements in drawing. Exhibitions of Corot’s drawings have been infrequent, especially outside France, and to our knowledge ours is the first to be held in the United States. But the most interesting challenge to seeing Corot’s drawing as an oeuvre is that his objectives and strategies with pencil, pen, chalk and charcoal changed considerably over time. The artist who, in the 1820 s , applied his classical training to define and place the mountains surrounding Civitella (no. 4 ) began in the 1850 s to use his powers of formal synthesis and imagination to create idyllic souvenirs such as Moonlit Landscape (no. 23 ) and Willow Grove (no. 29 ). His understanding of landscape—and the role of drawing in landscape—had become quite different. When Corot first devoted himself to landscape in the early 1820 s, he was aligning himself with an academic tradition which required that he work within a specific genre. The goal of a landscape painter was to produce a large composition, usually with figures, for the annual Salon in Paris. The most highly prized landscape painting was the paysage historique, with its references to Greco-Roman or Biblical narratives. The training undertaken by an aspiring landscape painter such as Corot included direct study of outdoor motifs, both in graphite and oil. Open-air study and sketching was a key part of the process of learning to see and paint, and would serve the artist in the studio as he conceived and executed these formal works to be submitted to the Salon jury. Certainly, the drawings from Corot’s first Rome trip in 1825 – 28 (nos. 3–6 ) belong in this context of classical landscape training, which was further enriched by the artist’s interactions with the international colonies of young landscape painters in Rome. From Achille-Etna Michallon ( 1796–1822 ) and Jean-Victor Bertin ( 1767–1842 ) during his earliest years of study 1822–25 , Corot learned to use hard graphite pencil to capture motifs with precise contours, as well as diagonal hatching to indicate shading. Corot frequently reinforced the graphite drawings of this era in ink and sometimes recopied his initial drawings entirely,
often using tracing paper as the support (no. 5 ). A graphite drawing was often the first point of contact between Corot and the motif, although drawing was also part of a protracted process of observation, notation and revision, involving different media at different points in time. Some of the Rome drawings are preliminary studies for oil sketches, and may well have undergone further revision either when revisiting the motif—which Corot frequently did—or when returning to the studio. By the 1850 s, ideas about ambitious art and the importance of landscape painting were hotly disputed. Changing audiences, venues, techniques, markets and, just as important, new ways of seeing and enjoying nature would continue to transform French landscape painting through Impressionism. Among the changes was the increasing primacy of outdoor study for artists like Corot, Théodore Rousseau ( 1812–1867 ), and Charles-François Daubigny ( 1817–1878 ). Painting and drawing landscape outdoors was no longer a step along the way to the finished work, but gained enormous practical and symbolic importance as the very motivation for landscape representation. This was a form of art that demanded a “direct” encounter between artist and nature, beholder and landscape. Established techniques of classical landscape seemed increasingly stiff, tired, and “artificial;” but what methods of composing and modes of execution could capture nature more vividly, while having the weight and ambition of a complete, independent work of art? This generation of landscape painters offered various solutions at different times. One development that is easy for modern viewers to recognize, from a vantage point after Impressionism, was a looser handling of the brush and the instruments of drawing. Corot pushed this gestural, improvisational mode of execution further than his contemporaries, especially in drawing. The long, supple lines that indicate the direction of branches and tree trunks (nos. 18 , 25 , 26 , 28 ); the briskly applied straighter lines that reinforce contours (nos. 19 , 21 ); masses sometimes defined by smoothed, stumped passages of charcoal, sometimes through scribbling and scratching (nos. 23 , 26 ) were not just techniques of execution. For Corot’s admirers, this repertory of mark-making comprised a coherent “way of seeing” and of seizing nature through the artist’s eye and hand.
Sketchbook folio, Musée du Louvre, Paris, RF 8708 47 , folios 24 v and 25 r.
In addition, Corot placed immense importance throughout his career on the establishment of “unity” in landscape. During the first trip to Rome, his progress in painting and drawing had much to do with an increasing ability to create an integrated image through the representation of light and shadow. Capturing relative values of light and dark served not only to distinguish one form from another, or to articulate dimension, but also to unify the image through the patterns and gradations of value across the field (no. 6 ). Corot never forgot this lesson. As the decades progressed, as Corot simplified his compositions by concentrating their elements into a compressed space with a few large masses, he also relied on what he called a “science of values” as a guiding principle. As the artist noted in a sketchbook of around 1860 : Le dessin est la première chose à chercher—ensuite les valeurs—les rapports des formes et des valeurs—voilà les points d’appui—après la couleur, enfin l’exécution. (“Drawing is the first thing to pursue—then values—the relations between forms and values—these are the main points—afterwards color, execution last.”) Musée du Louvre, RF 8709 , fol. 42 verso, cited in Sérullaz 2007 , p. 7 . Before setting down these objectives in words, however, Corot had developed a remarkable symbolic language for recording the relative lights and darks of a given motif (see illustration on previous page; Musée du Louvre, Paris, RF 8708 47 , folios 24 v and 25 r) . In a number of sketches from the notebooks of the 1850 s and 1860 s, he would place a circle to mean light, a square to mean dark, and the relative size of circles and squares, if there were more than one, to indicate the relative depth of light and dark. A page from folio I in our sketchbook from the early 1860 s shows Corot deploying this language in a casual notation. Sketches like these tell us that in the later years, Corot’s landscape was not just a gestural performance by the artist, but a particular mode of perception, one that began with the cognition and jotting down of a set of relationships already in nature—the principal lines (“ le dessin ”) and the relative values of a cohering motif. Although it is not until the later years that Corot produced many drawings as independent, signed compositions, either for sale or to offer as gifts, Corot’s figure studies often have a “complete” presence from an early date, as in his study
of a Roman peasant boy from around 1825 (no. 3 ). In the 1830 s, Corot’s Salon paintings sometimes show him struggling with the task of integrating the fig ure in the landscape in a convincing way—his critics often faulted him on this point—while other, more intimate kinds of figural representation, including por trait drawings and paintings of family and close friends, are among Corot’s most compelling works of this era (nos. 8 , 11 , 13 ). One issue for Corot was that he resisted treating the human body with the same kind of simplification and loose execution with which he handled landscape. One work on view, a study for the figures in La Toilette of the 1859 Salon (no. 21 ), is a rare example of a drawing study for a specific Salon painting of this period. The task of placing large figures in the landscape seems to have required more pointed, preliminary drawing work than usual. A reward of any monographic drawings exhibition is that it enlarges our view of the artist’s interests and occupations. There is much to be discovered in Corot’s drawings from the 1830 s and 1840 s, a period in which the artist’s efforts to develop a “public” style of landscape painting for the Salon and for official commissions were not always entirely successful. Other kinds of challenges take shape in outdoor painting and drawing during these years, particularly in the course of Corot’s study in the forest of Fontainebleau and his travels throughout France. There are fine, varied examples of Corot’s outdoor work in Normandy (nos. 7 , 12 , 17 ) and two very different kinds of studies made in the forest (nos. 9 , 15 ). For this viewer, the drawing of Paris from an elevated vantage point (no. 10 )—an attempt to revisit the lessons learned on the hills of Rome and take them in a different direction—was a most unexpected discovery, as was the fascinating architectural study of St.-Germain-en-Laye (no. 16 ). The organizers of the exhibition join me in inviting viewers to make their own discoveries about Corot the artist and Corot the draftsman. Just as we know and value more than one “Corot,” we will continue to discover the unknown Corot through continued curiosity about the many objectives, themes, and media that comprise this rich oeuvre.
C ATA L OGU E
1 . Valley of Montmorency, seen from Saint-Prix , c. 1820–24
Graphite on paper 7 ½ x 10 ¼ inches ( 19 x 26 cm) Inscribed verso: Saint-Prix, vallée de Montmorency
This drawing has recently been attributed to Corot on the basis of its technique and the inscription on the verso. Many aspects of this charming sheet point to a very early date. The naïve perspective of the buildings in the landscape, the intensely rectilinear composition, and almost literal attention to details of execution probably place the work no later than 1822 , when Corot received his first formal training in the studio of Michallon. Located 15 kilometers north of Paris, the village of Saint-Prix dominates the valley of Montmorency in the region of the Oise.
2 . Tree Study , 1823
Graphite on paper 8 ¾ × 5 7 ⁄ 8
inches ( 22 . 2 × 14 . 9 cm) Signed, inscribed and dated: Corot Près St. Germain 1823
provenance Sotheby’s New York, April 23 , 2004 , lot 10 ; Jill Newhouse Gallery ( 2004 ).
This study of two trees, one in full leaf and the other mostly bare, is an example of Corot’s engagement with open-air subjects before his first trip to Italy. The drawing effectively captures two aspects of a tree’s form: its masses, articulated through the shading of the clumps of foliage, and the linear structure of its trunk and branches. It also documents Corot’s response to the lessons in landscape painting and drawing that he was learning during this era, first in the atelier of Michallon and, when this drawing was made, in the studio of Bertin. This training included both direct study from nature on site and the copying of paintings, drawings, and prints, particularly prints of trees. Bertin had his students copy engravings of trees from Alphonse-Nicolas Michel
Mandevare’s Principes raisonnés du paysage of 1804 , as well as from his own lithographs of trees, published for instruction between 1816 and 1824 . The schematic shapes of the leaves and regular hatching of the shaded foliage in Corot’s drawing are partly informed by these models, as are the treatment of the leaves as shaded masses and the trunk and branches as a kind of skeleton. But while Mandevare’s and Bertin’s detailed, dry renderings of trees are meant to clearly distinguish particular species, Corot’s drawings are more intent on capturing the trees as a complete motif, briskly apprehended and in the same spirit as his open-air oil sketches. In his immensely influential Elemens de perspective pratique à l’usage des artistes, suivis de reflexions et conseils à un élève sur la peinture et particulièrement sur le genre du paysage of 1800 , Pierre Henri de Valenciennes ( 1750–1819 ), Michallon’s teacher, advised the student of landscape painting to paint “ des maquettes
A.-N. Michel Mandevare, Principes raisonnés du paysage, 1804 , Musée du Louvre, Paris
faites à la hate, pour saisir la Nature sur le fait ” (“quick rough sketches, to seize Nature in action.” p. 404 ). This work, however, makes the most of the tools of drawing. Corot has used hard and soft pencil, different thickness of line and a wide variety of gestural marks to add graphic variety to an already lively sketch.
Jean-Victor Bertin, Plane Tree, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
3 . Study of a Young Italian Boy , c. 1825–6
Graphite on paper 9 ½ × 10 ½ inches ( 24 . 1 × 26 . 7 cm)
provenance Paris Art Market; Jill Newhouse Gallery ( 2003 ).
This sensitively drawn study of an adolescent dates from Corot’s first trip to Italy ( 1825–28 ). The figure’s hat, short jacket and breeches are identical to those worn by the sitter in Corot’s well-known figure painting, Jeune italien assis dans la Chambre de Corot à Rome (R II, no. 57 , Musée des Beaux-Arts, Reims). The painting and drawing probably represent the same young man and both works were evidently done from life. Robaut dates the painting to the winter of 1825–26 , shortly after Corot’s arrival in Rome, a period in which he executed a number of figure studies that place the sitter on a trunk in the artist’s studio: “. . . He rented a little room near the Spanish Steps. Unfortunately, at the beginning, the rain often keeps him shut up indoors; he is reduced to painting whatever is outside his window, or seats upon his trunk an Italian whom he met on the street, and has him pose for him while waiting for the bad weather to end” (Robaut I, p. 30 ). Corot made many figure studies during his first Italian sojourn, but was particularly attached to the aforementioned painting. He made several versions of it, including one now in the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. ( Italian Peasant Boy , 1825–27 , 1963 . 10 . 8 ) and another recorded by Robaut as Jeune italien assis (R II, no. 58 , c. 1855 , location unknown), which transposes the figure in a landscape, recasting him as a recumbent shepherd. In the original painting, the figure is clearly placed in the painter’s studio. The corner of a stretched canvas is evident in the upper right, and one of Corot’s oil sketches is depicted on the wall.
This drawing and related paintings belong to a genre, the peasant costume study, which was perfected by artists such as Michallon, Corot’s first teacher. But whereas Michallon’s studies emphasize the elaborate patterns and textures of the costumes, Corot was often equally or more interested in the figures’ pose, facial expression and physiognomy. Such studies would also assist Corot in his peopling of landscape compositions. As finely observed studies of individuals, these paintings and drawings point the way to Corot’s outstanding portrait paintings and drawings of the 1830 s, including Little Girl Asleep and Seated Camaldolese Monk (nos. 11 , 13 ).
Jeune italien assis dans la Chambre de Corot à Rome , 1825–26 , Musée des Beaux Arts, Reims
4 . Civitella, 1827
Pen and ink on paper 9 ¾ × 14 7 ⁄ 8
inches ( 24 . 8 × 37 . 8 cm)
Inscribed lower right: Civitella Estate sale stamp lower left: Lugt 460 a
provenance Corot sale 1875 ; Collection Richard Goetz; Paris Art Market; Jill Newhouse Gallery ( 2010 ).
exhi b i t ions Paris, Galerie Hector Brame, June 14– July 5 , 1957 , no. 28 ; Berne, Kunstmuseum, Corot , January 23– March 13 , 1960 , no. 100 .
l i terature R IV, no. 2586 .
This drawing dates from Corot’s first sojourn in Rome, a critical period in the painter’s technical and aesthetic development as a landscape painter. It was during this trip that Corot undertook a systematic study of outdoor landscape drawing and oil sketching that was rooted in the techniques and teachings of the French school of classical landscape. Lengthy excursions to famous sites in the Roman countryside were a key part of this training, and the journeys would follow paths that travelers and artists had been making for centuries. One of these well-known sites was the spectacularly rugged landscape surrounding the hill town of Civitella, which was part of a circuit of travel into the mountains east of Rome. Corot
embarked on this journey in the spring of 1827 , arriving at the ancient town of Olevano in April and the environs of Civitella in July. Corot’s other known drawings of this site rely more on incidents of trees and foliage to fix the landscape’s topography and indicate depth, light and shade ( Vue de Civitella, c. 1827 , Musée du Louvre, Paris, RF 8983 ). There are fewer such incidents in the present drawing, whose precisely drawn contours and subtle indications of light and shadow create a lucid, complete view using deceptively simple means.
Vue de Civitella, c. 1827 , Musée du Louvre, Paris, RF 8983
5 . Landscape, Civita Castellana , 1826 or 1827
Pen and brown ink over graphite on calque mounted to wove paper 19 × 13 1 ⁄ 8 inches ( 48 . 3 × 33 . 3 cm) Inscribed upper right: Civita Castellana
provenance Galerie de Bayser, Paris.
Among Corot’s excursions during his first trip to Rome were two visits to Civita Castellana—a rocky, partly wooded valley twenty-seven miles north of the capital. These extended campaigns resulted in many drawings and oil sketches which, as a group, help demonstrate the rapidity of Corot’s progress in Rome. During his first trip to Civita Castellana, from mid-May to mid-July of 1826 , Corot began to achieve a unified landscape image by simplifying his compositions and integrating his brushwork and penmarks into a consistent whole. By his second visit, in September and October of 1827 , Corot had mastered a drawing technique that allowed him to articulate forms and spatial relations not only through line, but through variations in tone as well (Galassi 1991 , pp. 176–178 ).
This drawing could belong to either the 1826 or 1827 campaign. A number of drawings in the Louvre that Corot dated 1827 , also executed in pen and brown ink over graphite,
represent a sous-bois motif at Civita Castellana not unlike that of this sheet (RF 8963 , 4026 , 3405 ). This drawing’s composition and degree of finish are especially comparable to one that Galassi tentatively dates 1827 (no. 250 , p. 196 ). A particularly accomplished sous bois oil study from one of these campaigns is Rocks by a Stream , Civita Castellana , Ackland Museum, Chapel Hill (RII, no. 176 ; Galassi, no. 246 , p. 194 ). These drawing and oil studies appear to orbit around a painting titled The Fisher of Crayfish that was probably completed in the studio, and which Galassi dates 1826–27 (no. 247 , p. 195 ). continued
Fisher of Crayfish, 1826–27 , Private Collection
It was typical for Corot to use calque as a drawing support during this period. Robaut documents other drawings on calque from the first Roman sojourn including a panoramic view of Castello Sant’Angelo (R IV, no. 2479 ) and a view of Olevano (R IV, no. 2568 ).
Rocks by a Stream, Civita Castellana, 1826–27 , Ackland Museum, Chapel Hill
6 . Trees Among Rocks, with Italian Figures , c. 1827
Graphite on paper 11 ¼ x 4 ½ inches ( 28 . 5 x 37 cm) Estate sale stamp lower left: Lugt 460 a
provenance Corot sale 1875 , purchased by Henri Rouart; Thence by descent; Maurice Gobin (by 1938 ); Sale, Piasa, Paris, March 31 , 2000 . exhi b i t ions Paris, Galerie Maurice Gobin, Corot, 1938 , no. 9 ; Paris, Musée du Louvre, Hommage à Corot , 1975 , no. 128 (illus.). l i terature R IV, 2526 , p. 17 (illus.); Maurice Gobin, L’art expressif au XIXe siècle français , Paris, 1960 (illus.); Musée du Louvre, Hommage à Corot , 1975 , p. 140 (illus.).
Studies done in Rome testify to the great variety of topographical motifs and pictorial problems that Corot addressed as part of his training in classical landscape. Here, thick masses of trees emerge from large rock formations viewed up close, a challenge Corot tackled in other drawings of the Roman countryside from around the same date ( Forest Landscape , c. 1826–27 , Graphische Sammlung Albertina, Vienna, inv. no. 2419 r). In both works, the artist has taken care to emphasize key lines of tree trunks and branches in order to structure the entangled
elements of the motif. Yet the drawings are essentially studies of light and shade. In this sheet especially, rhythms of light and dark, deployed skillfully across the sheet, animate and unify the image. Corot was moved to further “complete” the drawing with tiny figures at the bottom left.
Forest Landscape, c. 1826–27 , Graphische Sammlung Albertina, Vienna
7 . Port of Honfleur , c. 1830
Graphite on paper 9 ½ x 12 ½ inches ( 24 . 1 x 31 cm)
This drawing is one of several studies that Corot made in the Normandy coastal ports from around 1823 to 1830 . The trips were partly facilitated by Corot’s family connection to the Sennegons, who lived outside Rouen (see nos. 8, 10 and 11 ), but the artist was also drawn to the villages of Honfleur, Trouville and Le Havre. The combination of expansive sky and sea, animated ports with boats, bustling figures, and jagged-cliffed beaches inspired many open air painters from the era and would continue to draw artists throughout the century. This particular work represents the shipyard at Honfleur, also the subject of an oil study by Corot. The boats, work materials, staging area and surrounding landscape have a similar arrangement in both drawing and painting ( Chantier Naval à Honfleur , c. 1823 , Pierre Dieterle, Martin Dieterle, and Claire Lebeau, Corot, Cinquiéme Supplément à L'Oeuvre de Corot par A. Robaut et Moreau-Nélaton , no. 6 , Private Collection). The painting is believed to date from around 1823 , as is another oil study of the same site, Old Wharf at Honfleur , now in the Rhode Island School of Design (c. 1822–25, R II, no. 35 ). While these paintings belong to the period before Corot’s first trip to Rome, the drawing’s technical prowess, particularly in the handling of the boats’ complex network of masts and rigging, suggests a date of around 1830 .
above: Chantier Naval à Honfleur , c. 1823 , Private Collection left: Quai d’un port de pêche, c. 1830 , Musée du Louvre, Paris
8 . Ville d’Avray: Corot and His Family , c. 1830–35
Graphite on laid paper 8 ¼ x 7 ¼ inches ( 20 . 4 x 18 . 4 cm) Signed and inscribed lower right: Ville d’Avray
provenance Martin Reymert; Jill Newhouse Gallery ( 1989 ).
This intriguing drawing is certainly a depiction of Corot sketching in the company of his immediate family: from the left, his sister, Annette-Octavie Sennegon ( 1793–1874 ), his mother, born Marie-Françoise Oberson ( 1769–1851 ), and his father, Louis-Jacques Corot ( 1771–1847 ). Corot, depicted behind and considerably smaller than his sister and parents, appears to be at work sketching the view before him. The four Corots are seated at the edge of their property, which Corot’s father had purchased in 1817 . This was next to the chemin de Corot , the road in Ville d’Avray that separated the family’s garden and house from the two ponds that the artist would paint constantly in his later years. Before the artist’s name came to be equated with the ponds of Ville d’Avray, Corot had frequently drawn and painted this very road from different angles, points of view, and in different manners. In many of these paintings, the point of view is in fact just around the spot where the seated figure of Corot looks and sketches in the present drawing. One such painting ( Ville d’Avray, c. 1820 s, Musée du Louvre, Paris, RF 2640 ), shows the white buildings known as the Maisons Cabassud occupying most of the background, while the Corot property is hidden by foliage. A later painting ( Le Chemin de Corot , R II, no. 516 , c. 1849 , Private Collection) shows the same view when the road was graded, with the edge of the Corot house just peeking out from the trees.
To our knowledge, only one other work by Corot is known in which all four members of the immediate family appear together. This is in the decorative panels that Corot painted in 1847 , the year of his father’s death, for the kiosk in the garden at Ville d’Avray (R II, no. 600 ). Corot drew, but did not paint, portraits of his father. His painted portrait of his mother (National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh, NG 1852 ) has been dated 1833–35 on the basis of the sitter’s costume; Madame Corot
Ville d’Avray, c. 1820 s, Musée du Louvre, Paris
Madame Corot, c. 1833–35 , National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh
owned a millinery shop on the Rue du Bac and would have sat for her portrait in the latest Parisian style. The present sheet probably dates from around the same time as the portrait of Madame Corot. Corot was devoted to his family, with whom he had a complex relationship. A lifelong bachelor who received a yearly allowance from his parents until their death, Corot was already 55 when his mother died, at which point he and his sister inherited the property at Ville d’Avray. It seems his parents exercised a good deal of influence over his comings and goings. Interestingly, there is no evidence that either his mother or father were particularly interested in their son’s paintings or were aware of his growing stature as an artist. Robaut reports that when Corot was awarded the Legion of Honor in 1846 , his father initially thought the cross was meant for himself. When assured that the honor had in fact been bestowed upon his fifty year-old son, he wondered if it might be fitting to increase his allowance.
Le Chemin de Corot , c. 1849 , Private Collection
9 . Trees in the Forest of Fontainebleau , c. 1830–35
Graphite on laid paper 11 1 ⁄ 8 x 8 7 ⁄ 8
inches ( 28 . 5 x 22 . 6 cm) Estate sale stamp lower left: Lugt 460 a Inscribed by Robaut on verso upper left: Croquis de COROT/en forêt de Fontainebleau/(provient de la vente posthume du maître)/Offert à Monsieur Allard/Alf. Robaut provenance Corot sale 1875 , part of lot 550 or 552 ; Alfred Robaut, Paris; M. Allard, Paris; Feichenfelt, Zurich; Jill Newhouse Gallery ( 1988 ). exhi b i t ions New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Romanticism and the School of Nature, 2000 , p. 50 , no. 24 .
l i terature R IV, p. 253 .
By the early 1800 s, open-air painting and drawing directly from the motif had become a part of classical landscape practice. As early as 1800 , Valenciennes’ influential treatise on landscape painting advised the artist to make assiduous study of the forest: “The forests of France are another vast field offering detail studies for the landscape artist . . . those of Ardennes, Compiègne, Fontainebleau, Villers-Cotterets and Navarre” (Valenciennes 1800 , p. 626 ). Corot began to sketch and paint in the Forest of Fontainebleau in 1822 , when he entered the studio of Michallon. He visited the forest more frequently after his first trip to Rome and in the 1830 s a number of his Salon paintings were set there. During this period, Corot would usually stay at the village of Chailly-en-Brière where there was growing community of artists. In later years, he often stayed at Ganne’s Inn in what became the artists’ colony of Barbizon. Like several other graphite and ink drawings that Corot made in the forest in the early-mid 1830 s, this work places great emphasis on the structure of the trees while also suggesting the density and complexity of the forest motif. Contours and diagonal hatching distinguish trunks and branches from the masses of foliage, with thicker, darker lines articulating key branches and points of connection. Clearly a working study, this drawing would have been used by Corot in conceiving large formal compositions for the Salon.
10 . View of Paris from the North-East , c. 1830–35
Graphite and watercolor on paper 13 × 19 ½ inches ( 33 . 0 × 49 . 5 cm)
provenance Private Collection, Paris.
This carefully delineated combination of landscape and townscape depicts an outdoor tavern with figures serving, waiting for service, or departing for the city. Sharply rendered buildings interspersed with poplar trees define the extensive mid-ground space, while identifiable Parisian monuments rise against the sky in the distance. From left to right are the dome of the Val de Grace, the dome of the Pantheon, which sits high on the Montagne Sainte-Geneviève, and Notre Dame. Two large trees in the foreground left of center establish the scale and spatial distances between the scene’s many elements. The relationship between the monuments and the elevated topography of the foreground suggest that the point of view for this drawing is from Belleville. Seen at the right are the windmills of Montmartre. An engraving of c. 1815 after a drawing of Père Lachaise cemetery by Courvoiser-Voisin shows at a distance the same configuration of monuments. Located north-east of central Paris, and now occupying much of the 20 th arrondissement, Belleville was an independent commune until 1860 . From the late 18 th century, it was also known to Parisians as one of the villages just outside the Paris tax barrier where wine could be purchased much more cheaply than inside the city, giving rise to rustic wine taverns called “guinguettes.” It appears from the contents of the foreground—the two wooden barrels on the left; the woman carrying a tray toward three seated figures; and the standing, aproned figure—that the subject is one of these simple wine taverns. This drawing is particularly striking in the way it composes and renders its view according to the lessons Corot had learned during his first trip to Italy from 1825– 1828 . In Corot’s own estimation, his studies of the Roman cityscape viewed from the elevated, landscaped viewpoint of the Farnese gardens were the great achievements of that sojourn and among the very best works of his career. In fact, he bequeathed two such oil studies to the Louvre. As in many of Corot’s drawings of the Roman countryside, the present drawing sets up effective contrasts and spatial dynamics between the large, open foreground and the tight rendering and complex incidents of the mid-and background, crowned by the city in the far, high distance.
Courvoisier-Vosion, Père Lachaise from the Gothic Chapel, c. 1815 , Bibliothèque des Arts Décoratifs, Paris Vincent Van Gogh, Guinguette Montmartre, 1886 , Musée d’Orsay, Paris
The inclusion of important, relatively large figures in this drawing, the use of color, and the carefully elaborated spatial relationships point to a date in the 1830 s. During this period, Corot approached the outdoor study in both oil and graphite with greater pictorial ambition. Figures became more common, elements were placed with increasing deliberation, and relationships between the fore-, mid-, and background became increasingly dynamic and effective.
Jardin Farnese , 1827 , Private Collection
The Forum from the Farnese Gardens, c. 1829 , Musée du Louvre, Paris
11 . Little Girl Asleep , c. 1830–35
Verso: Study of a Kneeling Woman Graphite on paper 7 ½ x 6 ½ inches ( 19 x 16 . 5 cm)
This disarmingly direct and spontaneous study of a sleeping child belongs to a period in which Corot, following his return from Italy, drew and painted a number of portraits of family and close friends. The young girl in our drawing may be a member of Corot’s sister’s family. Annette-Octavie Sennegon had seven children, four of them girls, whom provided Corot with some of his favorite subjects. The child’s physiognomy strongly resembles that of a finished drawing of a sleeping little girl now in London ( Head of a Sleeping Girl , Courtauld Institute, 1952 .RW. 3136 ). In both drawings, the figure boldly fills the sheet. The most careful mode of rendering is reserved for the face. The contours are decisive and the shading that frames the face, and hand, in our work, consists of frank, diagonal hatching.
As Germain Bazin has written, Corot’s depictions of children often adopt a style that aims to capture the supposed innocence of his subject. In this sheet, details such as the awkward angle of the arm and the unbroken, curving contour line that connects the bonnet to the arm exemplify this kind of deliberate naïvete.
above: Verso: Study of a Kneeling Woman left: Head of a Sleeping Girl , c. 1830 s, Courtauld Institute, London
12 . The Banks of the Seine at Rouen, View from the Grand Cours , 1833
Graphite on paper 5 1 ⁄ 8
× 7 ½ inches ( 13 × 19 cm) Inscribed bottom right: Lundi 19 août/ endroit de l’exercice des conscrits et des voyous Signed on the mount lower right: Alfred Robaut Inscribed and dated by an unknown hand on the mount lower left: . . . . (illeg) 1861
Private Collection, Rouen
Corot recorded this view of Rouen from a well-known promenade called the Grand Cours or Cours de la Reine . Tourist guides from the 1820 s and 1830 s describe the promenade’s lush alleys of elms, depicted at left, the steamboats in the Seine, the clusters of houses and commercial buildings, and the elegant spire and towers of the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Rouen. The drawing is related to a painting that Corot exhibited at the 1834 Salon . Submitted under the title Une marine , the painting is also known as Les Quais Marchands de Rouen ( The Merchants’ Quays at Rouen, Musée des Beaux Arts, Rouen). In a letter of February 26 , 1833 , Corot described this work as a depiction of the Rouen quays: “j’ai mis en train une marine rouennaise. C’est sur une toile de cinq pieds et demi, c’est composé de petits navires, deux fabriques chaumières et de fonds. Si Ruysdael et Van de Velde voulaient m’aider, cela ne me nuirait pas.” (“I’ve started a Rouen seascape. It’s on a canvas of five and a half feet, it’s composed of small ships, two cottage factories, and a background. If Ruysdael and Van de Velde wanted to help me, that wouldn’t hurt.”) (Paris, Ottowa and New York, p. 111 ). In the 1820 s and 1830 s Corot made several trips to Normandy, travelling, drawing, and painting in the region around Rouen and sometimes further afield. He would stay with the Sennegons, who lived in the village of Bois-Guillame just outside the city. In 1833 he visited Normandy twice. Corot’s correspondence places him at the Sennegons’ at Bois-Guillame in
Les Quais Marchands de Rouen , 1834 , Musée des Beaux Arts, Rouen
January and February and in various locations in Normandy in July and August. A letter of August 11 was written from Granville, on the channel coast, and the present drawing dates from just over a week later. Corot would have had to pass through Rouen on his way back to Paris, and the city may have been his last stopover on this particular journey. Corot’s reference to the 17 th century Dutch masters is evident in the composition, tonality and focus of the Salon painting. In addition, the painting emphasizes the commercial activity of the Rouen quays, while our drawing is a more a topographical portrait. In this regard, and in its fresh, spontaneous character as a study drawn on site, the sheet is also related to a panoramic view of Rouen that Corot painted between 1829 and 1834 ( Rouen Seen from the Hills Overlooking the City , R II, no. 236 , The Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford). The panoramic study takes it point of view from a road in the hills, southeast of the spot where Corot sketched the drawing.
Rouen Seen from the Hills Overlooking the City , c. 1829–1834 , The Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford
13 . Seated Camaldolese Monk , 1834
Graphite on paper 12 ¾ x 10 ½ inches ( 32 . 5 x 26 . 5 cm) Inscribed upper left: trésorier des Camaldules, près Florence (“treasurer of the Camaldolese, near Florence”) This finely observed, precisely rendered study of a seated monk in profile is characteristic of Corot’s best portrait drawings of the 1830 s, and most probably dates from Corot’s second trip to Italy. This was a relatively short, six-month trip which included Corot’s only visit to Tuscany and Florence. Corot focused on picturesque sites, views and figures that would serve him in composing Salon paintings. The sitter’s white habit, leather belt, as opposed to a cord, and long beard confirm the inscription which identifies him as a member of the Camaldolese offshoot of the Benedictines. An ascetic order founded by San Romualdo in 1046 , the name derives from their 11 th century hermitage in the Camaldoli mountains, located in the Casentino valley in Tuscany. The siting of the hilltop monastery and the magnificent views surrounding it would have been attractive to Corot, who may have spent the night there, as the hermitage offered free lodging to male visitors during this period. Throughout his career Corot depicted monks in various habits and engaged in absorbing activities, such as reading or playing the cello. The earliest is a painting that dates from Corot’s first trip to Italy ( Italian Monk Reading , Robaut I, no. 105 , Albright Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo). One of Corot’s sketchbooks from his 1834 trip includes numerous drawings of monks (Musée du Louvre, Paris, from Carnet 37 : RF 8714 , 24 ; 8714 , 42 ; 8714 , 44 ; 8714 , 25 ).
The drawing provides an exquisitely detailed record of the monk’s face in particular, along with his habit, hairline and beard. It is closely related to Corot’s Salon painting of 1840 , A Monk (Musée du
A Monk , 1839–40 , Musée du Louvre, Paris
Monk in White, Seated, Reading , c. 1857 , Musée du Louvre, Paris
Louvre, Paris, RF 1609 ), and even more closely related to a group of paintings of seated, reading monks in a white habits which are believed to date from the 1850 s and 1860 s ( Monk in White, Seated, Reading , Musée du Louvre, Paris, RF 2604 ; Seated Monk Reading , R III, no. 1332 , Bührle Collection, Zurich; Monk in White, Reading , Private collection, New York, in Paris, Ottowa and New York 1996 , figs. 104 a and 104 b, p. 244 ).
Seated Monk Reading , 1865, R III, no. 1332 , Bührle Collection, Zurich
14 . Detail of a Doorway, The Grange of Madame Barbier, Villiers-le-See , c. 1830–35 Graphite on paper 6 ½ x 3 ¾ inches ( 15 . 9 x 9 . 5 cm) Estate sale stamp lower left: Lugt 460 a Inscribed in graphite lower center: Porte de la Grange de Madame Barbier/ à Villiers-le-See
provenance Corot sale 1875 ; Purchased from Julius Weitzner, 1961 .
Collection of Roy and Cecily Langdale Davis, New York
One of Corot’s occupations during his first trip to Italy was the study of architectural subjects. Among his brilliant oil sketches from that era are luminous studies of the monuments of the Roman forum and the Coliseum. Following this trip, Corot devoted further study to architectural monuments in the precise medium of graphite. The best known example is a drawing from 1830 of part of the west façade of Chartres Cathedral (Musée du Louvre, Paris, RF 23335 ) which served Corot in the execution of his famous painting, The Cathedral of Chartres ( 1830 , retouched 1872 , Musée du Louvre, Paris, RF 1614 ). Corot worked at Chartres in the company of an architect, Pierre-Achille Poirot ( 1797–1852 ), whom he had met in Tivoli in 1827 , and one wonders if Poirot accompanied Corot further on his travels during the summer of 1830 . Chartres was just the first stop on Corot’s 1830 travel itinerary, which began in July, prompted by the outbreak of Revolution in Paris. Corot continued north to Normandy and Picardy, and his Normandy stops may have included Villiers-le-See, also called Villiers-le-Sec, in the Calvados region. It is in the context of this journey that Robaut places a graphite study of Caen Cathedral and dates it c. 1830 (R IV, no. 2646 , illus. Robaut I, p. 54 ), an approximate date for the present sheet as well.
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