Corot, Jean-Baptiste Camille

Corot, Jean-Baptiste Camille zhäN-bätēstˈ kämēˈyə kôrōˈ [key], 1796–1875, French landscape painter, b. Paris. Corot was one of the most influential of 19th-century painters. The son of shopkeepers, he worked in textile shops until 1822, when he began to study painting. The classical landscape painters Michallon and Bertin were his teachers. In 1825 he made his first trip to Italy, during which he painted calm, solid, and exquisitely composed groups of Roman buildings (e.g., View of the Farnese Gardens, 1826; Phillips Coll., Washington, D.C.). Upon his return to France he lived mostly in the Ville d'Avray, which formed the subject of many of his celebrated paintings, including two in the Metropolitan Museum. He worked in Italy again in 1834 and 1843, and traveled in Switzerland, Holland, and England. Corot exhibited regularly at the Salon from 1827. Corot's landscapes celebrate the countryside without idealizing the peasant or romanticizing farm labor. He used sketches made directly from nature to aid his studio compositions, sometimes painting entire landscapes outdoors. In Rome he created works notable for their simplicity of form and clarity of lighting, such as the Colisseum and the Forum (both: Louvre). His later landscapes, more lyrical in tone and painted primarily in shades of gray and green, were more popular. His delicate handling of light is especially evident in Femme à la Perle (Louvre) and Interrupted Reading (Art Inst., Chicago). Corot also painted a series of lesser-known portraits of women in which he modernized portrait painting, moving beyond traditional archetypal categories. His work is represented in most of the prominent galleries of England, France, and the United States.

See studies by J. Leymarie (tr. 1966) and Y. Taillandier (tr. 1967).

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