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Pantazzi, Michael, Vincent Pomarède, and Gary Tinterow
496 pages
344 illustrations
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Two hundred years after the birth of Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (1796–1875), 163 of the French artist's finest paintings have been brought together in an important exhibition that allows a public on both sides of the Atlantic to rediscover the riches and pleasures of his art. Corot, an original painter who produced a body of work of exceptional range, has been many things to many viewers. His silvery landscapes were adored by nineteenth-century collectors, and his sparkling sketches painted in plein air were later hailed as precursors of Impressionism. Art lovers have prized his figures paintings, the least well known and perhaps the most modern of all his works.

Corot's long and prolific career coincided with major artistic developments: the flourishing of Neoclassical, Romantic, and Realist tendencies; the Barbizon school; the rise of Impressionism. Although he has been claimed at various times for each of these movements, Corot defies categorization. His art was fueled by a profound love of the natural world, and the vision he pursued was his own. This catalogue of the exhibition recounts the engrossing progress of his life and art.

Corot's traditional education took him to Italy, where he painted crystalline outdoor oil studies and dedicated himself to mastering the art of classical landscape painting—a fascinating apprenticeship that is here carefully described. On his return to France he sought out views of great diversity and was among the first artists to frequent the forest of Fontainebleau. Working from his open-air studies he composed ambitious historical and mythological landscapes to exhibit at the Salons, but for some time these drew little favorable response. Undaunted, Corot continued to paint landscapes and to people them with figures of his own imagining, evolving a distinctive, poetic style. Both the critics and the public eventually grew enthusiastic, and in his later years Corot was a revered master, inundated by requests for pictures and instruction. A more private part of his oeuvre consists of the remarkable figure paintings, often depicting women in pensive attitudes, that the artist produced during this late period. Their purity and power have been admired by subsequent generations of artists. Hearty, generous, beloved, Corot was a man of good cheer but a painter of deep emotion and delicacy.

Each painting catalogued in this book is accompanied by a full art-historical discussion. Three major essays chronicle Corot's life and the development of his art; additional essays elucidate the vexed subject of forgeries and describe the collecting of his works. The volume contains much original new scholarship, a full review of the scholarly literature, a chronology, and a concordance, and it is meticulously documented throughout.

This book is published in conjunction with the exhibition "Corot," held at the Grand Palais, Paris, from February 27 to May 27, 1996; at the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, from June 21 to September 22, 1996; and at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, from October 22, 1996, to January 19, 1997.

Lake Albano and Castel Gandolfo, Camille Corot  French, Oil on paper, laid down on wood
Fontainebleau: Oak Trees at Bas-Bréau, Camille Corot  French, Oil on paper, laid down on wood
1832 or 1833
Honfleur: Calvary, Camille Corot  French, Oil on wood
ca. 1830
Toussaint Lemaistre (1807/8–1888), Camille Corot  French, Oil on canvas
Hagar in the Wilderness, Camille Corot  French, Oil on canvas
Diana and Actaeon (Diana Surprised in Her Bath), Camille Corot  French, Oil on canvas
View of Lormes, Camille Corot  French, Oil on canvas
early 1840s
A Village Street: Dardagny, Camille Corot  French, Oil on canvas
1852, 1857, or 1863
The Burning of Sodom (formerly "The Destruction of Sodom"), Camille Corot  French, Oil on canvas
1843 and 1857
Study for "The Destruction of Sodom", Camille Corot  French, Oil on canvas
Bacchante by the Sea, Camille Corot  French, Oil on wood
The Letter, Camille Corot  French, Oil on wood
ca. 1865
Mademoiselle V. . . in the Costume of an Espada, Edouard Manet  French, Oil on canvas
A Woman Reading, Camille Corot  French, Oil on canvas
1869 and 1870
[Henriette-Caroline-Victoire Robert], Louis-Rémy Robert  French, Salted paper print from paper negative
Sibylle, Camille Corot  French, Oil on canvas
ca. 1870
Ville-d'Avray, Camille Corot  French, Oil on canvas
Sulking, Edgar Degas  French, Oil on canvas
ca. 1870
Head of Jean-Baptiste Faure (1830–1914), Edouard Manet  French, Oil on canvas
Arrangement in Flesh Colour and Black: Portrait of Theodore Duret, James McNeill Whistler  American, Oil on canvas, American

View Citations

Tinterow, Gary, Michael Pantazzi, and Vincent Pomarède. 1996. Corot. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art : Distributed by Harry N. Abrams, Inc.