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Dunkerque, Une pêcheuse de crevettes

Dunkerque, Une pêcheuse de crevettes
with studio stamp 'VENTE/COROT' (lower left); and stamped with studio sale wax seal (on the reverse)
oil on panel
11 1/8 x 18 in. (28.2 x 45.7 cm.)
Painted in September 1857.
The artist's studio sale; Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 31 May- 2 June 1875, lot 141, as Dunes de Dunkerque. Une pêcheuse de crevettes.
Acquired at the above sale by M. Stevens (1800 fr).
The Hon. Sir Gervase Beckett, 1st Baronet (1866-1937), by 1935, and thence by descent to Beatrice Beckett, who married Anthony Eden in 1923.
Retained by Anthony Eden in his divorce from Beatrice in 1950.
C. Hussey, 'Fyfield Manor, Wiltshire - III, the Home of the Earl and Countess of Avon', Country Life, 5 October 1961, p. 751, illustrated in the Drawing Room.
A. Robaut, L'oeuvre de Corot, catalogue raisonné et illustré, Paris, 1965, vol. 2, p. 252, no. 762, illustrated p. 253; vol 4, p. 208, no. 141, illustrated.
Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Paintings and Drawings from the Collection of Lord Avon, 11 January – 20 March 1966, no. 4.

Brought to you by

Benedict Winter
Benedict Winter Associate Director, Specialist

Lot Essay

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot was a compulsive traveller, no more so than during the 1850s. In September 1857, he travelled through northern France with his friends, the painters Constant Dutilleux and Charles Desavary. There are several oil studies and two sketchbooks that survive from this trip, which included visits to Dunkirk and to Zuydcoote. Situated in the Nord Pas-de-Calais region of France, near the border with Belgium, Dunkirk, with its old port, structural ramparts, and surrounding dunes, provided Corot with ample motifs for his painting.

In the present lot, the depth of the landscape is deftly created by the placement of the figure of the woman in the left foreground and balanced by the house in the background to her left. This, in conjunction with the light sky, creates a rhythm and harmony that is almost musical. The depth of the painting is further enhanced by the brushwork. Corot uses layers of thinly applied glazes and scumbles of browns, greens, blues and grey to create a landscape of surprising complexity which results in the creation of a world of silent peace and serenity.

In addition to his trip of 1857, Corot made several painting expeditions to this region of France, notably in 1830, 1852 and finally, with his friends Charles-François Daubigny and Achille Oudinot in 1873. The works of this last trip display the liberating influence of his young Impressionist contemporaries.

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