This Old Testament scene shows an angel in the sky hurling fire and brimstone down upon Sodom, to destroy the city for its wickedness. At the left, another angel leads Lot and his two daughters to safety. Behind them, Lot's wife, who looked back in regret despite a warning, has become a pillar of salt. Years after Corot exhibited the painting at the Paris Salon of 1844, he cut it down substantially, reducing the sky and the landscape at right. He repainted the foreground in a darker palette and exhibited the revised canvas at the 1857 Salon. By then his stature ensured a better reception from the critics.
Inscription: Signed (lower right): COROT.
[Durand-Ruel, Paris, ?1869–72; possibly stock book in use from 1868 until 1873, no. 1202, as "Incendie de Sodom"; apparently bought from the artist about June 20, 1869, for Fr 14,000 or Fr 15,000; sold in March 1872, for Fr 18,000, to Camondo]; comte Abraham de Camondo, Paris (March 1872–d.1889); his son, comte Isaac de Camondo, Paris (1889; sold for Fr 100,000 to Durand-Ruel); [Durand-Ruel, Paris, 1889; sold on August 1 for Fr 125,000 to Havemeyer]; Mr. and Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, New York (1889–his d. 1907); Mrs. H. O. (Louisine W.) Havemeyer, New York (1907–d. 1929; cat., 1931, pp. 72–73, ill.)
Paris. Salon. March 15–?, 1844, no. 399 (as "Destruction de Sodome") [this canvas before being cut down].
Paris. Salon. June 15–?, 1857, no. 593 (as "L'incendie de Sodome").
Toulouse. Ancien Couvent des Jacobins. "Exposition des produits des beaux-arts et de l'industrie à Toulouse," June 19–?, 1865, no. 184 (as "Incendie de Sodome") [see Tinterow 1996, Robaut 1905].
Paris. École Nationale des Beaux-Arts. "Exposition de l'œuvre de Corot," May 1875, no. 209 (as "Sodôme," lent by M. le comte Camondo).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Loan Collection of Paintings," November 1890–April 1891, no. 6.
Chicago. World's Fair. "World's Columbian Exhibition: Fine Arts," May 1–October 26, 1893, no. 2886 (as "The Flight from Sodom," lent by Mr. Henry O. Havemeyer, New York).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The H. O. Havemeyer Collection," March 10–November 2, 1930, no. 12 (as "Destruction of Sodom") [2nd ed., 1958, no. 70].
Newark Museum. "19th-Century French and American Paintings from the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art," April 9–May 15, 1946, no. 4 (as "Destruction of Sodom").
San Francisco. California Palace of the Legion of Honor. "Barbizon Revisited," September 27–November 4, 1962, no. 9.
Toledo Museum of Art. "Barbizon Revisited," November 20–December 27, 1962, no. 9.
Cleveland Museum of Art. "Barbizon Revisited," January 15–February 24, 1963, no. 9.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. "Barbizon Revisited," March 14–April 28, 1963, no. 9.
Edinburgh International Festival. "Corot," August 14–September 12, 1965, no. 75.
London. National Gallery. "Corot," October 1–November 7, 1965, no. 75.
Leningrad [St. Petersburg]. State Hermitage Museum. "From Delacroix to Matisse," March 15–May 10, 1988, no. 4.
Moscow. Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts. "From Delacroix to Matisse," June 10–July 30, 1988, no. 4.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Barbizon: French Landscapes of the Nineteenth Century," February 4–May 10, 1992, no catalogue.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection," March 27–June 20, 1993, no. A100.
Paris. Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais. "Corot 1796–1875," February 27–May 27, 1996, no. 114 (as "Destruction de Sodome [The Destruction of Sodom]").
Ottawa. National Gallery of Canada. "Corot 1796–1875," June 21–September 22, 1996, no. 114.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Corot," October 29, 1996–January 19, 1997, no. 114.
Paris. Musée d'Orsay. "La collection Havemeyer: Quand l'Amérique découvrait l'impressionnisme...," October 20, 1997–January 18, 1998, no. 9.
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. "The Masterpieces of French Painting from The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1800–1920," February 4–May 6, 2007, no. 10.
Berlin. Neue Nationalgalerie. "Französische Meisterwerke des 19. Jahrhunderts aus dem Metropolitan Museum of Art," June 1–October 7, 2007, unnumbered cat.
Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe. "Camille Corot: Natur und Traum," September 29, 2012–January 20, 2013, no. 101.
Arsène Houssaye. "Le Salon de 1843." Revue de Paris 16 (April 1843), p. 35, calls it "L'Incendie de Sodome" and notes with regret that it was rejected by the jury of the 1843 Salon.
Louis Peisse. "Le Salon de 1843." Revue des deux mondes, n.s., 2 (April 15, 1843), p. 283.
Alphonse Karr. "Exposition des tableaux." Les Guêpes 11 (April 1843), p. 28 [excerpt reprinted in Ref. Robaut 1905, vol. 4, p. 359], calls it "Incendie de Sodome" and notes that it was refused by the Salon jury after Corot worked on it for an entire year; quotes a jury member's remark: "vous dites que nous l'avons refusé,—c'est possible—mais pourquoi faire un incendie quand on fait si gris?".
"Salon de 1843." L'Artiste, 3rd ser., 3 (1843), p. 178.
"Salon de 1843." Les Beaux-arts 1 (1843), p. 25.
"Le Salon." L'Artiste, 3rd ser., 5 (April 28, 1844), p. 258, states that "je ne comprendrai jamais son 'Incendie de Sodôme'".
A. A. "Salon de 1844." Les Beaux-arts 3 (1844), pp. 2–3, calls it prosaic and poorly painted.
"Salon de 1844." L'Illustration 3 (March 16, 1844), p. 56, ill. (wood engraving of the original state), praises this picture's inclusion in the 1844 Salon.
[Étienne-Joseph-]T[héophile]. Thoré. Le Salon de 1844. Paris, 1844, pp. 30, 32–33, finds Corot's three landscapes to be among the best in the Salon, but criticizes this work's lack of detailed handling.
"Diderot au Salon de 1844." La Chronique: Revue universelle, 3rd ser., 5 (1844), pp. 104–5 [excerpt reprinted in Ref. Robaut 1905, vol. 4, p. 360].
Désiré Laverdant. La Démocratie pacifique (May 16, 1844) [excerpt reprinted in Ref. Robaut 1905, vol. 4, p. 359].
Théophile Silvestre. Histoire des artistes vivants: Français et étrangers. Paris, 1856, pp. 102–4, calls the general execution of this picture energetic but clumsy.
Camille Corot. Letter to Édouard Brandon. March 31, 1857 [excerpt published in Ref. Moreau-Nélaton 1924, vol. 1, p. 108, fig. 138], reports that he will submit five works to the Salon of that year and sketches them on the verso of the letter, including this work in its second state.
A. J. du Pays. "Salon de 1857." L'Illustration 30 (September 26, 1857), pp. 202–3, criticizes its "tons sales".
Charles Perrier. L'Art français au Salon de 1857. Paris, 1857, p. 138, describes this picture as detestable.
Bertall. "Le Salon de 1857 dépeint et dessiné par Bertall." Le Journal amusant (September 19, 1857), ill. p. 1 (caricature).
Paul Mantz. "Artistes contemporains: Corot." Gazette des beaux-arts 11 (November 1, 1861), pp. 427–28, praises the color and dramatic power of both states of this picture, although discussing them as separate canvases.
Victor Frond. "Corot." Panthéon des illustrations françaises au XIXe siècle, comprenant un portrait, une biographie et un autographe. Paris, 1865, p. 2 [see Ref. Pantazzi 1996].
Camille Corot. Letter [to Durand-Ruel]. Sunday, June 20,  [reproduced in "Künstler-Autographen von 1850 bis 1950," Gutekunst & Klipstein, May 14, 1958, no. 15, as undated], apologizes that this painting has not yet been delivered, adding that it depicts the destruction of Sodom [see Pantazzi 1996 and Notes].
Armand Silvestre. Galerie Durand-Ruel, recueil d'estampes, gravées à l'eau-forte. Paris, 1873, pl. LXXIV (engraving by Laguillermie).
Henri Dumesnil. Corot: Souvenirs intimes. Paris, 1875, pp. 46, 125, 127, calls it "L'Incendie de Sodome".
Jules Claretie. Peintres et sculpteurs contemporains. Paris, 1882, vol. 1, p. 103 n. 1, p. 112, quotes Corot's complaint that the picture was poorly hung in the 1857 Salon and his assertion that he would save it first in the event of a fire.
Eugène Montrosier. Les Artistes modernes. Vol. 3, Les Peintres d'histoire, paysagistes, portraitistes et sculpteurs. Paris, 1882, pp. 105–6, 111.
Paul Cornu. Corot. Paris, 1889, p. 84, ill. p. 87 (sketch of the second state) [see Ref. Corot 1857].
Montezuma [Montague Marks]. "My Notebook." Art Amateur 21 (September 1889), p. 67, states that Durand-Ruel purchased it for Fr 120,000 [see Provenance].
Montezuma [Montague Marks]. "My Notebook." Art Amateur 21 (November 1889), p. 114, notes that it has recently been sold to Havemeyer and provides erroneous information regarding past sale dates and prices; relates that Corot originally sold it to a friend who reneged on the deal until finally purchasing it twenty years later following the artist's alterations.
L[éon]. Roger-Milès. Les artistes célèbres. Vol. 32, Corot. Paris, , pp. 38, 48, 50, 83, describes it as expressive but not without faults.
A. Larthe-Ménager. "Corot (1796–1875)." Les Contemporains 3 (October 7, 1894), p. 14.
L[éon]. Roger-Milès. Album classique des chefs-d'œuvre de Corot. Paris, 1895, p. 38, ill., erroneously locates it as still in the collection of Durand-Ruel.
David Croal Thomson. The Barbizon School of Painters: Corot, Rousseau, Diaz, Millet, Daubigny, etc. London, 1902, pp. 40, 66, ill. opp. p. 46, calls it "L'Incendie de Sodome" or "Lot and his Daughters"; provides erroneous prices for 1868 and 1873 sales.
Gustave Geffroy in "Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot." Corot and Millet. Ed. Charles Holme. New York, 1903, pp. cxvi–cxvii, cxx–cxxi, asserts that Corot found the subject in Brittany; notes that he reduced the height of the canvas by fifty centimeters for the Salon of 1857.
Ethel Birnstingl and Alice Pollard. Corot. London, 1904, pp. 106, 164, 167, 178.
Alfred Robaut. L'Œuvre de Corot: Catalogue raisonné et illustré. [reprint 1965]. Paris, 1905, vol. 2, pp. 108, 168–69, 178, 344–45, no. 460 (first state) and no. 1097 (final state), ill.; vol. 4, pp. 168–69, 177, 276, 358–60, 366, proposes that the original composition was derived from two studies, "Volterra–Route descendant de la ville" (1834; R305; location unknown) and "Mur (Côtes-du-Nord)–une fontaine" (about 1840–43; R476; private collection); states that although the painted sketch (R460bis; MMA 1984.75) is not identical to the first version, it is close enough to provide "un document intéressant"; reproduces the wood engraving of the original state [see Ref. L'Illustration 1844]; describes the reduction of the canvas at the top and side and the repainting of the landscape and figures, characterizing the present painting as "un nouveau tableau peint sur l'ancien".
Maurice Hamel. Corot et son œuvre. Paris, 1905, vol. 1, pp. 22, 28, pl. 23, mistakenly calls it a replica of the earlier version.
Julius Meier-Graefe. Corot und Courbet: Ein Beitrag zur Entwicklungsgeschichte der Modernen Malerei. Leipzig, 1905, pp. 49–50, 64 [English translation published in Ref. Meier-Graefe 1908; reprinted in Ref. Meier-Graefe 1913], notes the influence of Delacroix on the final composition.
Émile Michel. Les artistes célèbres. Vol. 57, Corot. Paris, , p. 30.
Alfred Robaut. Documents sur Corot. [about 1905], vol. 3, pp. 18, 41 [Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Cabinet des Estampes, Paris], describes Corot reworking this canvas in 1855 or 1856 and lists the various states, noting that a "1er état inconnu fut en hauteur" (unidentified), giving a state later than the present work as "4 le même l'ange refait (moins bien)" (unidentified), and including a copy after the present work by Desbrosses (location unknown).
Étienne Moreau-Nélaton in Alfred Robaut. L'Œuvre de Corot: Catalogue raisonné et illustré. [reprint 1965]. Paris, 1905, vol. 1, pp. 101, 104, 106, 170, ill. p. 169 (sketch) [reprinted in Ref. Moreau-Nélaton 1924], comments that its setting was inspired by [the Italian town of] Volterra; describes the altered state as barely recognizable compared to the original.
Julius Meier-Graefe. Modern Art, Being a Contribution to a New System of Aesthetics. London, 1908, vol. 1, pp. 173, 178.
Loys Delteil. Le peintre-graveur illustré (XIX et XX siècles). Vol. 5, Corot. Paris, 1910, unpaginated.
Étienne Moreau-Nélaton. Corot. Paris, 1913, p. 59.
Julius Meier-Graefe. Camille Corot. 3rd ed. Munich, 1913, pp. 54–55, 77, ill., mistakenly gives the Louvre as the owner of the picture.
August F. Jaccaci. "Figure Pieces of Corot in America: I." Art in America 1 (April 1913), p. 77.
Étienne Moreau-Nélaton. Corot raconté par lui-même. 2nd rev. ed. (1st ed., 1905). Paris, 1924, vol. 1, pp. 55–56, 58–59, 108, fig. 138 (sketch) and fig. 140.
Arsène Alexandre. "La Collection Havemeyer: Courbet et Corot." La Renaissance 12 (June 1929), p. 281, ill., calls it "Fuite de Loth" in the text and "L'Incendie de Sodome" in the caption.
François Fosca. Corot, 1796–1875. Paris, 1930, p. 53, pl. 31, states that violent dramatic subjects like this one are rare in Corot's oeuvre.
C. Bernheim de Villers. Corot: Peintre de figures. Paris, 1930, p. 32, no. 173, ill.
Charles Chassé. "Corot en Bretagne." L'Art et les artistes 20 (July 1930), pp. 334–35, discusses its derivation from the study of the fountain of Sainte Marguerite [which he incorrectly calls Sainte Suzanne; see Ref. Toussaint 1975] in Mur-de-Bretagne (R476; private collection).
Julius Meier-Graefe. Corot. Berlin, 1930, pp. 54, 75–76, discusses Corot's modifications to the initial canvas.
Frank Jewett Mather Jr. "The Havemeyer Pictures." The Arts 16 (March 1930), pp. 470–71, ill. p. 488, calls it "Lot and His Family Fleeing from Sodom"; notes the influence of Poussin and Bertin landscapes in this picture, describing it as the early work "of a talent that has not yet found itself".
H. O. Havemeyer Collection: Catalogue of Paintings, Prints, Sculpture and Objects of Art. n.p., 1931, pp. 72–73, ill., calls it "Destruction of Sodom" and dates it 1857.
Lionello Venturi. Les Archives de l'impressionnisme. Paris, 1939, vol. 1, p. 19; vol. 2, p. 185, publishes Paul Durand-Ruel's account of the ownership of the picture [see Notes].
Walter Pach. "The Past Lives On." American Artist 12 (October 1948), p. 29, ill. (detail), cites it as an example of Corot's "debt to the classic ideal".
Daniel Baud-Bovy. Corot. Geneva, 1957, pp. 38, 86, 187, 210–12, 230–31, pl. XLII, states that Silvestre's [Ref. 1856] criticism of the original version caused Corot to modify the picture; proposes that the artist used the study of Volterra (R305) for the first version but employed the study of Mur-de-Bretagne (R476) for the second.
François Fosca. Corot, sa vie et son oeuvre. Brussels, 1958, pp. 24, 32, 146, 190, comments that this is one of the few of Corot's historical landscapes in which the figures play an important role.
André Coquis. Corot et la critique contemporaine. Paris, 1959, pp. 34–36, 72, 77, 80.
Robert L. Herbert. Barbizon Revisited. Exh. cat., California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco. Boston, 1962, pp. 29, 48, 53, 87–88, no. 9, ill. p. 96, discusses this work as an example of Corot's allegiance to "the older Romantic generation" in his Salon pictures.
A. Tabarant. La Vie artistique au temps de Baudelaire. 2nd ed. (1st ed. 1942). [Paris], 1963, pp. 61, 71, 242.
Cecil Gould. Corot. Exh. cat., Edinburgh International Festival. London, 1965, unpaginated, under no. 25, no. 75, pl. 35, notes that it recalls the styles of Diaz and Millet.
Charles Sterling and Margaretta M. Salinger. French Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 2, XIX Century. New York, 1966, pp. 52–54, ill., state that Corot "himself was displeased with" the first state of this picture.
Germain Bazin. Corot. 3rd rev. ed. (1st ed., 1942; 2nd ed., 1951). Paris, 1973, pp. 47, 265, 268–69, interprets the revision of this picture as a conscious effort to develop a new mode of romantic work from a classical composition.
Pierre Miquel. Le Paysage français au XIXe siècle. Vol. 2, 1824–1874. Maurs-la-jolie, 1975, pp. 27, 38–39, reprints Salon criticism.
Hélène Toussaint inHommage à Corot: Peintures et dessins des collections françaises. Exh. cat., Orangerie des Tuileries. Paris, 1975, pp. 48, 112, 181–82, mentions two paintings of the fountain of Sainte Marguerite in Mur-de-Bretagne as studies for this picture, dating both about 1840 (R685, Philadelphia Museum of Art and R476, private collection) [see Ref. Pantazzi 1996].
Lydie Huyghe in René Huyghe. La Relève de l'imaginaire. La Peinture française au XIXe siècle: Réalisme, romantisme. Paris, 1976, p. 438.
Denise Delouche. Peintres de la Bretagne: Découverte d'une province. [Paris], 1977, pp. 266–67, 292 n. 302, ill.
Sarah Symmons. Daumier. London, 1979, pp. 12–13, 94, fig. 9, suggests that it may have had a "profound effect" on Daumier's paintings of fugitives.
Frances Weitzenhoffer. "The Creation of the Havemeyer Collection, 1875–1900." PhD diss., City University of New York, 1982, pp. 112, 115, 132, 188, fig. 20.
William Hauptman. "Juries, Protests, and Counter-Exhibitions before 1850." Art Bulletin 67 (March 1985), pp. 103, 106.
Frances Weitzenhoffer. The Havemeyers: Impressionism Comes to America. New York, 1986, pp. 60, 66, 89, 255, pl. 18, ill. p. 74 (installation photograph).
John Ingamells. The Wallace Collection: Catalogue of Pictures. Vol. 2, French Nineteenth Century. London, 1986, p. 46.
Fronia E. Wissman. "Corot's Salon Paintings: Sources from French Classicism to Contemporary Theater Design." PhD diss., Yale University, 1989, vol. 1, pp. 88–92, 173, 203, no. 81; vol. 2, fig. 39, observes that after the canvas was reduced in size, the figures became more prominent, causing the image to be read as a history painting rather than as a landscape.
Peter Galassi. Corot in Italy: Open-Air Painting and the Classical-Landscape Tradition. New Haven, 1991, pp. 60, 235 n. 76, discusses Michallon's influence on Corot, calling the first version of this picture an example of Corot's "deep attachment to the tradition of heroic landscape".
Josine M. Eikelenboom Smits. "The Architectural Landscapes of Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot." PhD diss., Stanford University, 1991, vol. 1, pp. 268–70; vol. 2, fig. 250 (wood engraving), discusses the generalization of Volterra's city walls into a compositional device in this picture, commenting that Corot used architecture in "his invented landscapes only as a token of human culture"; erroneously lists its catalogue raisonné number as R1857.
Michael Clarke. Corot and the Art of Landscape. London, 1991, pp. 67, 69, fig. 74.
Fronia E. Wissman in Kermit S. Champa. The Rise of Landscape Painting in France: Corot to Monet. Exh. cat., Currier Gallery of Art. Manchester, N.H., 1991, p. 76 n. 14.
Jean Leymarie. Corot. 3rd ed. (1st ed., 1966). [Geneva], 1992, pp. 114–15, ill. [English ed., 1979].
Susan Alyson Stein inSplendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, pp. 209, 215, notes that the Havemeyers purchased it from Durand-Ruel on August 1, 1889.
Gary Tinterow inSplendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, p. 21, colorpl. 14, notes that the Havemeyers, unlike other American collectors, preferred Corot's figure paintings, such as this one.
Alice Cooney Frelinghuysen. Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, fig. 34 (installation photograph).
Gretchen Wold inSplendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, p. 307, no. A100, ill.
Iain Gale. Corot. London, 1994, pp. 26–27, 36, 39, cites the influence of Poussin's "Orpheus and Eurydice" (Musée du Louvre, Paris) and "Flight into Egypt" (location unknown) on the first version of this picture; considers the more dramatic reworking of the canvas similar to Delacroix.
Gary Tinterow and Polly Sartori. "The Corot Interview." Barbizon, Realist and French Landscape Paintings. Christie's, New York. May 22, 1996, p. 14, mention it as an example of Corot's deliberate shift in his later figure paintings to a "more romantic mood" and "new golden-brown, Rembrandtesque color harmony".
Vincent Pomarède inCorot. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1996, p. 127 n. 1 [French ed., "Corot 1796–1875," Paris, 1996, p. 178 n. 1].
Michael Pantazzi inCorot. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1996, pp. 141, 145, 147, 250, 253–55, 400, 412, 415, no. 114, ill. (color) [French ed., "Corot 1796–1875," Paris, 1996, pp. 23, 28, 195, 198–200, 312, 316–17, 466, no. 114, ill. pp. 199, 317 (color, overall and detail)], cites an 1843 drawing (Musée du Louvre, Paris), the 1844 engraving, and the oil sketch (MMA 1984.75) as indications of the original composition; suggests that Corot decided to alter the painting in 1856, probably because of his increasing interest in the human figure rather than as a response to criticism; states that Durand-Ruel purchased it in 1869, based on Corot 1869 [see Notes].
Gary Tinterow inCorot. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1996, pp. 340, 354 [French ed., "Corot 1796–1875," Paris, 1996, pp. 402, 414].
François Fossier et al. "Corot." Connaissance des arts [special exhibition issue for "Corot, 1796–1875"] (1996), pp. 28, 54, fig. 48 (color).
Christine Peltre. "Camille Corot." Beaux arts [special exhibition issue for "Corot 1796–1875"] (1996), p. 46, fig. 4 (color).
Gary Tinterow inLa collection Havemeyer: Quand l'Amérique découvrait l'impressionnisme. Exh. cat., Musée d'Orsay. Paris, 1997, pp. 17, 43, 104, no. 9, ill. p. 41 (color).
Marcia Kay Stein. "Orphée, Eurydice et la vie contemporaine." Corot, un artiste et son temps. Ed. Chiara Stefani, Vincent Pomarède, and Gérard de Wallens. Paris, 1998, p. 291, fig. 15.
Vincent Pomarède. "Le Souvenir recomposé: réflexions autour du thème du 'souvenir' dans l'œuvre de Corot." Corot, un artiste et son temps. Ed. Chiara Stefani, Vincent Pomarède, and Gérard de Wallens. Paris, 1998, pp. 434–35.
Vincent Pomarède inCorot: Naturaleza, Emoción, Recuerdo. Ed. Vincent Pomarède. Exh. cat., Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. Madrid, 2005, pp. 43, 275, 308, 312, 338, 390, 400, 402, fig. 8.2 (color).
Gary Tinterow inThe Masterpieces of French Painting from The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1800–1920. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. New York, 2007, pp. 28–29, 194, no. 10, ill. (color and black and white), notes that Corot based the figures in this picture on those from similar scenes by Raphael (Vatican) and Veronese (Musée du Louvre, Paris).
Vincent Pomarède inCorot e l'arte moderna. Souvenirs et Impressions. Exh. cat., Palazzo della Gran Guardia, Verona. Venice, 2009, p. 53.
Vincent Pomarède inThe Secret Armoire: Corot's Figure Paintings and the World of Reading. Ed. Mariantonia Reinhard-Felice. Exh. cat., Collection Oskar Reinhart "Am Römerholz," Winterthur. Munich, 2011, p. 171 [German ed., "Corot. L'Armoire secrète: Eine Lesende im Kontext," Munich, 2011].
Oskar Bätschmann inThe Secret Armoire: Corot's Figure Paintings and the World of Reading. Ed. Mariantonia Reinhard-Felice. Exh. cat., Collection Oskar Reinhart "Am Römerholz," Winterthur. Munich, 2011, p. 52 n. 37 [German ed., "Corot. L'Armoire secrète: Eine Lesende im Kontext," Munich, 2011].
Margret Stuffmann inCamille Corot: Natur und Traum. Exh. cat., Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe. Heidelberg, 2012, pp. 188, 468, no. 101, ill. p. 196 (color).
Dorit Schäfer inCamille Corot: Natur und Traum. Exh. cat., Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe. Heidelberg, 2012, p. 249.
Simon Kelly inInventing Impressionism: Paul Durand-Ruel and the Modern Art Market. Ed. Sylvie Patry. Exh. cat., Musée du Luxembourg, Paris. London, 2015, pp. 63, 274 n. 20 [French ed., "Paul Durand-Ruel: le Pari de l'Impressionnisme," Paris, 2014, pp. 50, 217 n. 20], citing Durand-Ruel stock 1868-1873, no. 1202, states that Durand-Ruel bought it from Corot in March 1872 and sold it the same month for Fr 18,000 to Camondo.
This painting is a reworked section of a larger canvas, L'Incendie de Sodome, which was first painted in 1843 and rejected by the jury of the Paris Salon that year. Corot retitled the painting Destruction de Sodome and successfully submitted it to the 1844 Salon. Three works record this initial state of the painting: a drawing (Musée du Louvre, Paris), an anonymous wood engraving (see L'Illustration 1844), and a painted sketch (MMA 1984.75; Robaut 1905, no. 460bis).
Three studies can be linked to the painting in its original state: Road Descending from the City (Robaut 305; location unknown) and two versions of Mur (Côtes-du-Nord) (private collection; Robaut no. 476 and Philadelphia Museum of Art; Robaut no. 685).
In advance of the Salon of 1857, Corot revised the canvas by cutting it at the top and the right, and by repainting much of the landscape and the figures. The painting was exhibited in this, its second (and present) state, at the Salon that year as L'Incendie de Sodome.
There is a reproductive etching of the second state of the painting by Laguillermie (see Silvestre 1873) and a lithograph by Emile Vernier (see Robaut 1905).
The early ownership of the painting is complicated. Sterling and Salinger (1966) indicated that Durand-Ruel owned the painting from 1868 until 1873; it now seems that these are the dates of the Durand-Ruel stock book in use at the time the painting passed through the gallery for the first time, rather than the dates during which the dealer owned the painting. In a letter written by Corot from Coubron, dated Sunday, June 20, with no year, the artist expressed regrets that his painting depicting the destruction of Sodom had not yet been delivered to the letter’s recipient (most probably Paul Durand-Ruel), noting that a M. Grédelue was supposed to have picked it up (see Corot 1869). While the painter was at Coubron in the summers of 1868, 1869, and 1872, the only one of those years in which June 20 fell on a Sunday was 1869 (see Pantazzi 1996, pp. 254, 255 n. 16).
With regard to Paul Durand-Ruel’s first ownership of the painting, it bears noting that the purchase and sale prices have been given variously in different editions of his memoirs, stating that he bought the painting from Corot for 14,000 or 15,000 francs and sold it to Abraham Camondo for 20,000 francs (see Durand-Ruel 1911–12 in Venturi 1939, p. 185, and Durand-Ruel and Durand-Ruel, eds. 2014, p. 92). A more recent scholar, relying on the Durand-Ruel stock book in use from 1868 to 1873, stated that Durand-Ruel purchased the work directly from Corot in March 1872 and sold it that same month to Camondo for 18,000 francs, identifying the stock number 1202, “Incendie de Sodom,” as the Museum’s picture (see Kelly 2015, pp. 63, 274 n. 20, citing Durand-Ruel Archives). Despite the evident reliability of the Durand-Ruel stock book (as compared to Paul Durand-Ruel’s memory), the Museum cites Corot’s 1869 letter as the basis for the date the artist sold the picture.