• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 7702

    Impressionist/Modern, Day Sale

    5 February 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 327

    Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (1796-1875)

    La bretonne en prière

    Price Realised  

    Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (1796-1875)
    La bretonne en prière
    signed 'COROT' (lower left)
    oil on paper laid down on panel
    13 7/8 x 10¾ in. (35.2 x 27.3 cm.)


    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    Contact the department

    Martin Dieterle has confirmed the authenticity of this painting.

    Corot considered painting from the figure to be almost a hobby, an activity separated from his usual routine of painting landscapes. Yet throughout his career, figure painting would occupy more and more of his time, especially by the 1860s and 1870s, a period when he created his largest body of work. Despite the fact that he was widely exhibiting his landscapes during this time, his staunch refusal to present the figure pictures to the public is evidence enough to assume that they held a very private significance for him. It is believed that Corot showed these paintings only to his dearest friends and colleagues, retrieving them from a locked cabinet in his studio whenever he received a visitor.

    Due to his reluctance to exhibit figure paintings, it is not surprising that Corot did not develop into one of the many social portraitists eagerly sought after by the local aristocracy. Nevertheless from the 1860s onwards Corot became increasingly interested in idealised portraiture often employing relatives and inhabitants of neighbouring villages to pose in his studio, dressed in costumes from his own collection of textiles. As is usual in many of these works, the sitter's identity is unknown, yet she is elegantly and sumptuously dressed, and posed against an open landscape, featureless save for the small tower in the background. Despite the fact that Corot did not show these works widely, a market for such portraits quickly developed among sophisticated collectors. It was not until the retrospective of Corot's work held in 1875, however, that the beauty and breadth of his figure paintings came to the attention of the general public.

    Special Notice

    VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 15% on the buyer's premium


    Provenance

    A. Robaut, by whom acquired directly from the artist in 1858.
    Galerie Durand-Ruel, Paris, by 1904.
    Paul Rosenberg, Paris.
    Emil and Alma Staub-Terlinden, Männedorf, by whom acquired from the above in 1923, and thence by descent to the present owners.


    Pre-Lot Text

    PROPERTY FROM THE STAUB-TERLINDEN COLLECTION


    Literature

    A. Robaut, Corot, Catalogue raisonné et illustré, vol. II, Paris, 1965, no. 1039 (illustrated).