Wednesday, 15 July 2015



Born in Paris 16 July 1796 to enterprising parents that eventually owned the most fashionable hat shop in Paris. Corot was apprenticed to a draper, but hated it and circa 1821 he persuaded his father to allow him to become an artist. His sister died a year later leaving him a yearly allowance which enabled him to set up a studio at Quay Voltaire alongside the Seine in the heart of Paris.

Corot was a highly prolific painter, completing over 350 paintings and drawings between 1825 and 1828. He was primarily a landscape painter influenced by both Neo-Classicism and the English landscape tradition of Constable and Turner. He traveled extensively through Italy and France, painting landscapes as he went and using his sketches in the studio back in Paris. However, in his early years he was determined to impress the critics at the Salon, so he produced many neo-classical ruins, allegories and biblical scenes. His drawings and sketches are less staid and charming.

Corot's second love was portraiture and he painted many portraits of his family and studio models. Although popular at the time, his nudes came later. In 1837 he painted his earliest surviving nude, The Nymph of the Seine. At the time, he advised his students ...

"The study of the nude, is the best lesson that a landscape painter can have. If someone knows how, without any tricks, to get down a figure, he is able to make a landscape; otherwise he can never do it."

By the mid 1800s he was highly sought after as a painting instructor. After his parents death, he ran a busy teaching studio that was always bustling with students, models, patrons and others. His style became increasingly impressionistic, leading him to become a major influence on Boudin, Pissarro, Sisley, Berthe Morisot and many other emerging artists. By that time, his paintings sold for up to 4,000 francs. He was generous with his success, using his connections to help young artists achieve commissions and donating large sums to struggling artists, their families and the poor of Paris.

In spite of being largely ignored by the system and only completing one major commission, in 1848, he was grudgingly admitted to the Salon jury and was made an officer 1867. He was not given the formal recognition he deserved, which in 19th century Paris meant the gold medal of honour, so, knowing this, shortly before his death a group of admirers presented him with a gold medal they designed for him.

In conclusion I have to say that I think Corot was a great painter, somewhat stifled by the Salon system and his desire for recognition. He was prolific, enthusiastic and active till late in life and loved to encourage artists. If he had been born 50 years later, free from the structure of the Salon, perhaps he would have been one of the leading Impressionists. He is certainly an artist which deserves more than a casual glance the next time you visit a museum where he is represented.

Corot died 22 February 1875 in Paris, shortly after the first impressionist exhibition, and just as many of his pupils were founding the impressionist movement. Without his encouragement the movement might have fizzled and died. He is buried at Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.


I thought "Sheep in Pasture" was a good companion to Corots pastoral scenes. This is a tiny miniature ACEO painting which comes with it's own curved brushed silver frame. It stands on its edge, or you can tip it slightly and use the picture stand. It would make a lovely gift for someone missing the meadows of their childhood. It is available at Daily Paintworks.

by Sea Dean
2.5" x 3.5" on Canvas Card
Framed in brushed silver curved frame as shown

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