JEAN-BAPTISTE CAMILLE COROT (1796-1875)
JEAN-BAPTISTE CAMILLE COROT (1796-1875)
JEAN-BAPTISTE CAMILLE COROT (1796-1875)
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PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT PRIVATE FRENCH COLLECTION
JEAN-BAPTISTE CAMILLE COROT (1796-1875)

Le gros arbre (environs de Gournay)

Details
JEAN-BAPTISTE CAMILLE COROT (1796-1875)
Le gros arbre (environs de Gournay)
signed ‘COROT’ (lower left)
oil on canvas
15 x 22 in. (38.1 x 55.8 cm.)
Painted in 1865-1870
Provenance
Constant Dutilleux, Paris (possibly acquired from the artist); Estate sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 26 March 1874, lot 26.
M. Choupot, Paris (acquired at the above sale).
Pierre Lebaudy, Paris (before 1905).
Mme Pierre Lebaudy, Paris (by descent from the above, circa 1929).
Private collection, Paris (gift from the above, by 1962).
By descent from the above to the present owner.
Literature
A. Robaut, L’oeuvre de Corot: Catalogue raisonné et illustré, Paris, 1965, vol. III, p. 108, no. 1549 (illustrated, p. 109).

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Lot Essay

Théodore Duret best defined a key quality of Corot’s art in the 1860s when he noted that the painter fixed on canvas not only the visual spectacle before him, but also “the exact sensation of something he experienced” (T. Duret, Les peintres français en 1867, Paris, 1867, p. 27). Theodore de Banville expressed this observation perfectly when he wrote, “This is not a landscape painter, this is the very poet of landscape…who breathes the sadness and joys of nature…The bond, the great bond that makes us the brothers of brooks and trees, he sees it; his figures, as poetic as his forests, are not strangers to the woodlands that surrounds them. He knows, more than anyone, he has discovered all the customs of boughs and leaves; and now that he is sure that he will not distort their inner life, he can dispense with all servile imitation” (“Le Salon de 1861,” Revue fantanstique 2, 1 July 1861, pp. 235-236).
Painted in 1865-1870, Le gros arbre (environs de Gournay) is an exquisite example by the master at the height of his powers. Corot perfectly captures a moment in time. The depth of the landscape is deftly created by the placement of the seated young girl and her cow in the foreground, while the old, gnarled tree of the title defines the middle ground and the rock formation, the architectural elements and the misty hills beyond create the background of the painting. These elements all serve to draw the eye of the viewer gently though the landscape, creating the essence of the quiet French countryside on a summer’s day. The silvery light, cottony tree and feathery brushwork were features that spoke to a new generation of painters. Corot’s paintings from the mature period of his career provided a link between the grand tradition of French landscape painting of Poussin and Clause and the new movement of Impressionism. The elder artist influenced Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley, Berthe Morisot and Camille Pissarro, all of whom either experimented with Corot’s technique or called themselves his pupils.

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