Lot Content

Global notice COVID-19 Important notice
Property from the Estate of Fred S. Strauss
Jean Baptiste Camille Corot (1796-1875)

Plaine aux environs d'Etampes

Jean Baptiste Camille Corot (1796-1875)
Plaine aux environs d'Etampes
signed 'COROT' (lower right)
oil on canvas
16 5/8 x 24 1/8 in. (42.2 x 61.1 cm.)
Painted circa 1855-1860
Delagarde Collection, Paris (by 1889).
Galerie Alfred Daber, Paris.
Paul Rosenberg & Co., New York.
Wildenstein & Co., Inc., New York.
Acquired from the above by the late owner, May 1968.
M. Hamel, "Exposition de chefs-d'oeuvre de l'école française--vingt peintures du XIXe siècle," Les Arts, August 1910, p. 12 (illustrated, p. 26).
H. Granville Fell, "Corots in America," The Connoisseur, November 1934, p. 288 (illustrated, p. 285).
A. Robaut, L'oeuvre de Corot, Catalogue raisonné et illustré, Paris, 1965, vol. II, p. 302, no. 986 (the author's sketch illustrated, p. 303).
Paris, Galerie Georges Petit, Exposition de chefs d'oeuvres de l'ecole française: Vingt peintures du XIXème siècle, May 1910, p. 7, no. 13 (illustrated).
Zurich, Kunsthaus, Camille Corot 1796-1875, August-October 1934, p. 42, no. 80.
New York, M. Knoedler & Co., Inc., Loan Exhibition of Figure and Landscape Paintings by J.B.C. Corot, November-December 1934, no. 13 (illustrated).
New York, Paul Rosenberg & Co., Paintings by Corot, March 1947, no. 5 (illustrated).
New York, Paul Rosenberg & Co., Exhibition of 19th and 20th Century French Paintings, December 1955-January 1956, no. 5.
Bern, Kunstmuseum, Corot, January-March 1960, no. 60.

Lot Essay

Plaine aux environs d'Etampes was painted in the 1850s at the peak of Corot's career. Hailed as the leading landscape painter of the time, Corot's studio was often crowded with critics, collectors, dealers and students. Often credited as the progenitor of Impressionism, Corot's method of painting en plein air drew the interest of Renoir, Monet, Sisley, Morisot and Pissarro--all of whom either experimented with Corot's technique or called themselves his "pupils." Even after his death, these artists were quick to credit Corot for his ground breaking work. On a visit to Cagnes in 1918, the dealer René Gimpel recorded Renoir's comments on Corot: "There you have the greatest genius of the country, the greatest landscape artist who ever lived. He was called a poet. What a misnomer! He was a naturalist. I have studied ceaselessly without being able to approach his art" (quoted in R. Gimpel, Diary of an Art Dealer, New York, 1966, p. 13). Van Gogh went further, praising the "quietness, mystery and peace" of Corot's landscapes, and said, "in his works one feels Homer, Aeschylus, Sophocles, as well as the Gospels sometime, yet how discreet it is, and how much, all possible modern sensations, common to us all, predominate" (quoted in J. Leighton, "After Corot," Corot, exh. cat., The South Bank Centre, London, 1992, p. 30).

With financial independence, Corot was free to paint in his own manner. Unlike many of his contemporaries he did not have to rely on the Academie des Beaux Arts system for his advancement and remuneration. He quickly developed his own individual style wherein studies he made directly from nature were developed into finished, larger-scale works in his studio. These pictures were immediately popular with collectors and dealers alike. In 1840 the State made its first purchase of one of his works, the landscape subject Paysage: soleil couchant (La Cour d'Or, Musees de Metz). While Corot did not deviate from his highly individualistic style of painting, he did continue to work within the structures of official advancement and recognition, submitting works regularly to the Salon and accepting the title of Chevalier of the Legion of Honor.

Plaine aux environs d'Etampes is an important picture, as its long exhibition history indicates. It was included in a significant early exhibition of Corot's work in Paris in 1910. This show followed on from the important Corot retrospective at the Salon d'Automne of 1909 which was attended by Picasso and Braque and did much to inspire both artists' subsequent experiments in Cubism. Plaine aux environs d'Etampes was then included in a major survey of the artist's career in Zurich in 1934, before returning to the States for an exhibition in New York at Knoedler Gallery in 1936. The present work made a further trip to Switzerland in 1960 when it was among the works selected for an exhibit held that year at the Kunstmuseum. After traversing the Atlantic once more, it was eventually sold to the late owner, Fred Strauss, through the Wildenstein Galley in New York in the Springtime of 1968, thus completing a busy sixty years of travel.

More from Impressionist and Modern Evening Sale

View All
View All