Corot often painted views of the large pond on the property he had inherited from his parents at Ville-d'Avray. In repeating the scene, he took certain liberties, especially with the tree just left of center. The silhouette of branches and foliage against the pewter sky led Corot's biographer Alfred Robaut to liken this work to a spider's web. Corot initially included a child with outstretched arms beside the crouching peasant woman, but he seems to have found this detail too anecdotal. Critics admired the calm poetry of this composition when it was first exhibited at the 1870 Salon.
Inscription: Signed (lower right): COROT
[Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, until 1880; sold on August 4 for Fr 10,000 to Knoedler]; [Knoedler, New York, 1880–81; stock no. 2701; sold on January 11 for $2,700 to Wolfe]; Catharine Lorillard Wolfe, New York (1881–d. 1887)
New York. National Academy of Design. "Pedestal Fund Art Loan Exhibition," December 3, 1883–January 1, 1884, no. 13 (as "Ville d'Avray," lent by Miss Catharine Wolfe).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Taste of the Seventies," April 2–September 10, 1946, no. 77.
Shizuoka Prefectural Museum of Art. "Landscape Painting in the East and West," April 19–June 1, 1986, no. 9.
Kobe City Museum. "Landscape Painting in the East and West," June 7–July 13, 1986, no. 9.
Southampton, N.Y. Parrish Art Museum. "In Support of Liberty: European Paintings at the 1883 Pedestal Fund Art Loan Exhibition," June 29–September 1, 1986, no. 13 [this painting not exhibited until August 1].
New York. National Academy of Design. "In Support of Liberty: European Paintings at the 1883 Pedestal Fund Art Loan Exhibition," September 18–December 7, 1986, no. 13.
New York. IBM Gallery of Science and Art. "The Rise of Landscape Painting in France: Corot to Monet," July 30–September 28, 1991, no. 37.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Barbizon: French Landscapes of the Nineteenth Century," February 4–May 10, 1992, no catalogue.
Paris. Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais. "Corot 1796–1875," February 27–May 27, 1996, no. 148.
Ottawa. National Gallery of Canada. "Corot 1796–1875," June 21–September 22, 1996, no. 148.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Corot," October 29, 1996–January 19, 1997, no. 148.
Albany. New York State Museum. "French Painters of Nature; The Barbizon School: Landscapes from The Metropolitan Museum of Art," May 22–August 22, 2004, no catalogue.
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. "The Masterpieces of French Painting from The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1800–1920," February 4–May 6, 2007, no. 15.
Berlin. Neue Nationalgalerie. "Französische Meisterwerke des 19. Jahrhunderts aus dem Metropolitan Museum of Art," June 1–October 7, 2007, unnumbered cat.
Ph. Burty. Le Rappel (May 20, 1870) [excerpt reprinted in Ref. Robaut 1905, p. 375], praises this picture.
Camille Lemonnier. Salon de Paris, 1870. Paris, 1870, pp. 176–79, calls it "Étang de Ville d'Avray" and erroneously describes "un bachot qu'un homme dirige à la rame" in the composition.
A[lfred]. de L[ostalot]. "Le Salon de 1870: Œuvres reproduites par 'L'Illustration'"." L'Illustration 55 (May 7, 1870), p. 335, ill. p. 333 (engraving by Pirodon), praises it with reservations.
René Ménard. "Le Salon de 1870 (2e et dernier article)." Gazette des beaux-arts, 2nd ser., 4 (July 1870), p. 54, remarks that this picture is a representation of Corot's vision of nature rather than a realistic depiction.
Marius Chaumelin. "Salon de 1870." La Presse (June 27, 1870), p. 2, prefers it to Corot's other Salon entry, "Paysage avec figures" (R2002; location unknown); describes it with admiration.
Mrs. Schuyler van Rensselaer. "The Wolfe Collection at the Metropolitan Museum. II." Independent 39 (November 24, 1887), p. 8.
"Gallery and Studio: The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Art Amateur 18 (December 1887), p. 7.
Walter Rowlands. "The Miss Wolfe Collection." Art Journal, n.s., (January 1889), p. 13.
L[éon]. Roger-Milès. Les artistes célèbres. Vol. 32, Corot. Paris, , p. 84.
"The Metropolitan Museum of Art—The French Painters." New York Times (May 22, 1895), p. 4.
Theodore Robinson. "Camille Corot." Modern French Masters: A Series of Biographical and Critical Reviews by American Artists. Ed. John C. van Dyke. repr. (1st ed., 1889). New York, 1896, p. 115.
"Louvre of Nations." New York Times (September 17, 1898), p. RBA618.
Alfred Robaut. L'Œuvre de Corot: Catalogue raisonné et illustré. [reprint 1965]. Paris, 1905, vol. 3, pp. 244–45, no. 2003, ill.; vol. 4, pp. 170, 375, calls it "Ville-d'Avray—L'étang vu à travers la feuillée" and dates it 1870; identifies it as the "Ville d'Avray" shown in the Salon of 1870.
Maurice Hamel. Corot et son œuvre. Paris, 1905, vol. 2, pl. 65, calls it "Bord d'Étang".
Étienne Moreau-Nélaton in Alfred Robaut. L'Œuvre de Corot: Catalogue raisonné et illustré. [reprint 1965]. Paris, 1905, vol. 1, p. 247 [reprinted in Ref. Moreau-Nélaton 1924].
Frank Fowler. "The Field of Art: Modern Foreign Paintings at the Metropolitan Museum, Some Examples of the French School." Scribner's Magazine 44 (September 1908), p. 383, calls it "Ville d'Avray, near Paris".
"The Mr. and Mrs. Isaac D. Fletcher Collection." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 13 (March 1918), p. 60, notes its similarity to "A Woman Gathering Faggots at the Ville d'Avray" (MMA 17.120.225).
Étienne Moreau-Nélaton. Corot raconté par lui-même. 2nd rev. ed. (1st ed., 1905). Paris, 1924, vol. 2, p. 37, fig. 217.
François Fosca. Corot, 1796–1875. Paris, 1930, pl. 73, as "Ville d'Avray. Bords de l'étang".
André Coquis. Corot et la critique contemporaine. Paris, 1959, pp. 120–21.
James Merrill inCorot, 1796–1875. Exh. cat., Art Institute of Chicago. Chicago, 1960, p. 15.
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. 66–67, ill., mention three other similar compositions (MMA 17.120.225; R939; R1229).
Victor Carlson inThe Forest of Fontainbleau [sic], Refuge of Reality: French Landscape 1800 to 1870. Exh. cat., Shepherd Gallery. New York, 1972, unpaginated, under no. 17.
Pierre Miquel. Le Paysage français au XIXe siècle. Vol. 2, 1824–1874. Maurs-la-jolie, 1975, p. 52.
Hélène Toussaint inHommage à Corot: Peintures et dessins des collections françaises. Exh. cat., Orangerie des Tuileries. Paris, 1975, p. 184.
Maureen C. O'Brien in Maureen C. O'Brien. In Support of Liberty: European Paintings at the 1883 Pedestal Fund Art Loan Exhibition. Exh. cat., Parrish Art Museum. Southampton, N.Y., 1986, pp. 24, 32, 95, 138, 140, no. 13, ill. p. 138 and colorpl. VIII, states that this picture was among those chosen by the selection committee of the 1883 Pedestal exhibition because they were "modern in technique and intimate in scale and intent"; notes that the inclusion of this and eleven other Corot loans "documented a serious and informed appreciation of Corot on the part of New York collectors in the 1880s".
Mahonri Sharp Young. "Letter from the USA: The Pedestal." Apollo 124 (July 1986), p. 50, colorpl. IX.
Geneviève Matheron. Corot à Ville-d'Avray. Exh. cat., Musée de Ville-d'Avray. Ville-d'Avray, 1987, colorpl. 25, as "L'étang vu à travers la feuillée".
Fronia E. Wissman. "Corot's Salon Paintings: Sources from French Classicism to Contemporary Theater Design." PhD diss., Yale University, 1989, vol. 1, pp. 188, 205, no. 119, mentions the surface patterning of the trees in this picture as an example of Corot's "entry into the realm of decorative painting," marking a shift from his concern to accurately depict a specific site.
Michael Brenson. "French Landscape Painting, The Seed of Impressionism." New York Times (August 2, 1991), p. C22.
Jean Leymarie. Corot. 3rd ed. (1st ed., 1966). [Geneva], 1992, p. 197, ill. p. 162 (color) [English ed., 1979].
Michael Pantazzi inCorot. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1996, p. 405 [French ed., "Corot 1796–1875," Paris, 1996, p. 470].
Gary Tinterow inCorot. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1996, pp. 346–48, 417, no. 148, ill. (color) [French ed., "Corot 1796–1875," Paris, 1996, pp. 33, 406–7, no. 148, ill. (color)], notes that the figure of the woman was originally accompanied by a small child, painted out before the Salon of 1870, suggesting that the artist judged the second figure too anecdotal or distracting; cites a conservation report on this picture that describes the varied nature of Corot's mature painting technique.
François Fossier et al. "Corot." Connaissance des arts [special exhibition issue for "Corot, 1796–1875"] (1996), p. 63, fig. 56 (color).
Dianne W. Pitman. Bazille: Purity, Pose, and Painting in the 1860s. University Park, Pa., 1998, p. 139, fig. 88.
Rebecca A. Rabinow. "Catharine Lorillard Wolfe: The First Woman Benefactor of the Metropolitan Museum." Apollo 147 (March 1998), pp. 52, 55 n. 28, states that Wolfe purchased it on January 11, 1881 from Knoedler for $2,700.
Vincent Pomarède inCorot: Naturaleza, Emoción, Recuerdo. Ed. Vincent Pomarède. Exh. cat., Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. Madrid, 2005, pp. 315, 404.
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. 35, 197, no. 15, ill. (color and black and white).
19th Century European Art. Sotheby's, New York. May 4, 2012, p. 150, fig. 1 (color).
Michael Clarke in Helga Kessler Aurisch and Tanya Paul. Monet and the Seine: Impressions of a River. Exh. cat., Philbrook Museum of Art. Houston, 2014, p. 6, fig. 2 (color).
"Ville d'Avray" appears in the title of many paintings by Corot, several of which feature a pond seen through a veil of foliage. Sterling and Salinger (1966) note that this work and three others have similar compositions and include small female figures in the foreground: Ville d'Avray—fourré au bord de l'étang avec une paysane à genoux (location unknown; Robaut 1905, no. 939), L'étang vu à travers les arbres (Souvenir de Ville d'Avray) (location unknown; Robaut no. 1229), and A Woman Gathering Faggots at Ville d'Avray (MMA 17.120.225; Robaut 2097).
There is an engraving by Pirodon after this painting (see Lostalot 1870).