French painter Camille Corot was born in Paris on July 16, 1796. He is best known for his landscape paintings, which in some ways, predated and inspired the Impressionist movement. The murky landscapes and poignant mythical vignettes of Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot represent a significant period of change in French art, from the scholarly Neoclassicism of the early nineteenth century to the avant-garde advancements of its subsequent decades.
Achille Etna Michallon, a great landscape painter, already well-known for his oil drawings despite his youth, served as one of Corot’s first painting instructors. Unfortunately, Michallon passed away at the young age of 26 from an unexpected illness.
Corot was compelled to start taking lessons from Jean-Victor Bertin as a result. Along with Michallon, Bertin studied under Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes and worked as a neoclassical landscape architect. In order to appreciate nature in its purest form and improve their landscape paintings, Valenciennes constantly pushed his pupils to create landscape paintings outside.
His excellent teachers highly influenced Jean Baptiste Camille Corot’s painting style.
Fame and business success
Famous Jean Baptiste painter art style had further softened and matured by the 1850s, and at this time, his fame peaked.
He began gravitating towards muted color schemes of grays and straightforward blue-greens, developing an ever-more depressing visual lexicon. Then, when his mother passed away, he was able to leave the family house because of his immense critical and financial success.
It should be mentioned that in addition to his landscape paintings, Corot also created a genre that he dubbed “Souvenirs.” These pieces typically showed people in a basic scene, like a lake or wooded clearing. Corot did this while drawing inspiration from his imagination and using his signature tonality and sensitivity to give the pieces a believable feel. The beauty of Jean Baptiste’s art is attributed to his amazing invention.
Jean Baptiste Camille Corot paintings
The Bridge at Narni
Since neoclassical artists like Claude Lorrain and Nicolas Poussin had immortalized the Italian landscape, it possessed an almost supernatural allure for any European artist of the early 19th century. An early visit to Rome and the surrounding territories satisfied all of the young Corot’s dreams of the Mediterranean landscape.
Fresh out of his art school, he created several canvases and sketches during this time. This painting is the ideal illustration of the style he developed during his time in Italy. Using conventional academic compositional techniques, Corot guides the eye of the viewer into and around the painting with his meandering river and thoughtful use of light. The artwork is notable in that it shows Corot’s intense immersion in neoclassical ideas while he was a pupil in Paris.
Forest of Fontainebleau
The Forest of Fontainebleau in France is shown in this serene landscape picture, replete with cows and a cowherd herding his herd to water in the distance. The precise balancing of horizontal lines and verticals exposes the meticulous preparation poured into the artwork. In some sense, the artwork appears to be a work constructed on location.
This is a significant work because it shows Corot’s interaction with the art school that was then linked with Fontainebleau in terms of both matter and form. The Salon of 1846 embraced this artwork despite its non-mythological nature of the content and rejection of neoclassical tradition. Charles Baudelaire, a Symbolist poet, who positioned famous painter Jean Baptiste at the forefront of contemporary advances in landscape painting and several other critics, praised it.
Hagar in the Wilderness
Corot paints a scenario from the Book of Genesis of the Old Testament in this 1835 painting. Abraham’s spouse, Sarah, couldn’t conceive, so Hagar, Sarah’s servant, helped Abraham. Abraham had a child with Hagar, but Sarah later gave birth to Isaac, also Abraham’s child.
Sarah sends Hagar, and her child Ishmael to a Desert out of jealousy, where they nearly perish from dehydration before an archangel at a spring saves them. In Corot’s depiction of Hagar’s ultimate breakdown, she begs God to have mercy on her as the angel draws near. With the light slicing through the desolate terrain and dividing the entire canvas in two, Hagar in the Wilderness is partially a study in dramatic tone contrast. In addition, the figures’ stylized poses, biblical motifs, and themes point to the profound impact of fine neoclassical art. As a result of his academic background, painter Jean Corot had Neoclassicalist respect for sacred and mythical landscapes as well as an understanding of the dramatic moralistic role of art.
Souvenir of Mortefontaine
This romantic painting from 1864 has dappled light dancing across the twigs of a tall tree, which sags beneath the weight of its leaves and creates a secondary frame inside the canvas. The harvest, a typical theme of French landscape painting, is depicted to the left with a dreamy clarity, the borders between human bodies and greenery dissolved in a delicate cloud of color.
Three individuals gather around a sapling, reaching up for its offerings. The peaceful lake’s quiet water, which perfectly reflects the trees beyond, adds to the impression by creating a sense of harmony between nature and humanity. This work, which Corot carefully arranged with deliberate asymmetry, shows his enduring attraction for the compositional motifs of neoclassical landscape art even in his later years.
Corot has a secure position in the annals of 19th-century art. When he first began painting, landscape study was a starting point for more thoughtful work and had little aesthetic significance. Corot is one of the first to demonstrate that the sketch has vigor and spontaneity, a fundamental truth about nature that a more polished image lacked. The Impressionist landscape artists looked up to Corot and learned a lot from him because he had helped pave the path for them.