Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (French, 1796-1875)
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Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (French, 1796-1875)

Le batelier à la rive. Soleil couchant

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (French, 1796-1875)
Le batelier à la rive. Soleil couchant
signed 'COROT' (lower left)
oil on canvas
13 x 18 ½ in. (33 x 47 cm.)
Painted circa 1845-50.
M. Clémenceau, Lyon.
His sale; Hôtel Drouot, 19 May 1888, lot 9, as Paysage; soleil couchant.
with Goupil et Cie., acquired at the above sale.
F. Michel, Vichy, acquired from the above, 6 July 1888, as Paysage, soleil couchant (pêcheur jetant ses [filets (?)]).
A. Robaut, L'Oeuvre de Corot, catalogue raisonné et illustré, Paris, 1965, Vol. 2, pp. 216- 217, no. 615 (illustrated).
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Lot Essay

'This is not a landscape painter, this is the very poet of the landscape, who breathes the sadnesses and joys of nature. The bond, the great bond that makes us the brothers of rooks and trees, he sees it; his figures, as poetic as his forests, are not strangers to the woodland that surrounds them. He knows more than anyone, he has discovered all the customs of boughs and leaves; and now that he is sure he will not distort their inner life, he can dispense with all servile imitation.' (Theodore de Banville, 'Le Salon de 1861', Revue fantaisiste 2, (July 1, 1861), pp. 235 - 36.)

Recognition of Corot’s abilities as a leading landscape painter came not only from his patrons but also from his peers; Gauguin wrote 'Corot loved to dream, and in front of his paintings, I dream as well; and Van Gogh praised the 'quietness, mystery and peace’ of Corot’s landscapes (quoted in J. Leighton, “After Corot,” Corot, exh. cat., The South Bank Centre, London, p.30).

Corot also had a profound impact on a number of younger artists who eventually became members of the Impressionist movement; Berthe Morisot was his student for a period and Camille Pissarro described himself as a pupil in the Salon brochures. Corot's paintings were in great demand from collectors and dealers alike, and his studio was often crowded with critics, collectors, dealers and students who all clamoured to see him at work.

Corot painted the present work in 1845-1850; this was a period that marked the beginning of his fame and recognition in the eyes of the public and the establishment, culminating in his award of the Légion d’Honneur in 1846. The present painting is a harmonized blend of invented leitmotifs such as the boatman with his signature red cap to animate the composition, the architectural capriccio in the background, and the overall composition being dominated by a mass of trees in the foreground. The composition is united by the gentle warm glow of a setting sun and like so many of Corot's poetic landscapes, can be viewed as a nostalgic homage to the artist's trips to Italy, and the time he spent around Lake Nemi in the Roman campagna. The present work is an exquisite example, not only of his innate ability to capture his local environs, but also of his ability to translate onto his canvas the atmospheric effects of any given time of day.

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