JEAN-BAPTISTE-CAMILLE COROT was born July 17, 1796 in Paris into the family of a draper, his mother a fashionable milliner. At the age of 19, Corot started attending classes at the atelier Suisse run by one of David’s former pupils. He had a studio built in the country house of his father at Ville-d’ Avray, near Versailles and devoted himself entirely to painting. He joined the studio of the neoclassical landscapist Achille-Etna Michallon and took lessons from Jean-Victor Bertin.
At that period Corot traveled tirelessly in the region around Paris and on the Channel coast and preferred to paint out of doors. Corot’s first trip to Rome from 1825 to 1828 would become decisive to his development. On his return to France he continued to travel throughout the country and work out of doors. He often stayed in the forest of Fontainebleau, which inspired numerous woodland scenes. At the same time he produced large historical compositions but it was his landscapes that brought him fame and are best remembered.
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 Romantic idealization of the countrysite as a form of escapism from urban banality, and he remained more faithful to the French Classical 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 Millet and Courbet, 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).
Corot was in his late thirties when he won his first medal at the Salon of 1933. In 1847 he was awarded the medal of the Légion d’Honneur. His growing popularity helped draw attention to naturalism. In 1870 Corot was elected a member of the Salon jury. During the Franco-Prussian War he donated big sum of money for his country defense.
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 Daumier.
On February 22, 1875 Corot died in Ville-d’Array, at the age of 79.
Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot : Bords d’une riviere avec deux clochers emergeant des arbres, oil on panel, 9×17.5
Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot : Bords d’une riviere avec deux clochers emergeant des arbres, oil on panel, 9 x 17.5 in