2 More
This lot will be removed to our storage facility a… Read more PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT JAPANESE PRIVATE COLLECTION

Nymphes et faunes

Nymphes et faunes
signed 'Corot' (lower right)
oil on canvas
381/2 x 511/2 in. (97.8 x 131 cm.)
Painted in 1870.
Laurent-Richard sale; Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 7 April 1873, lot 5.
M. Defoer, purchased from the above sale.
His sale; Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, 22 May 1886, lot 2.
with Knoedler & Co., Paris, 1887.
Barlett Collection, Boston, 1890.
William H. Fuller Collection, New York, 1912.
with M. Knoedler & Co., New York, circa 1922.
Collection Butterworth; Parke-Bernet, New York, 20 October 1954, lot 22.
with Wildenstein & Co., New York.
Miss A.D. Wiman sale; Sotheby's, London, 23 October 1963, lot 47.
Purchased at the above sale by J.W. Brown.
Anonymous sale; Christie's, New York, 22 April 2004, lot 104.
Anonymous sale; Christie's, New York, 12 October 2011, lot 31, where purchased by the present owner.
Gazette des Beaux-Arts, July 1870.
A. Robaut, L'oeuvre de Corot, catalogue raisonné et illustré, Paris, 1965, vol. III, pp. 244-5, no. 2002, illustrated.
Paris, Salon, 1870, no. 648, as Paysage avec figures.
Paris, Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Corot, 1875, no. 179, lent by Defoer.
Paris, Galerie Georges Petit, Cent-Chefs-d'Oeuvre, 1883, no 1.
New York, Knoedler Galleries, 1934, no. 26.
Munich, Haus der Kunst Munchen, Im Licht von Claude Lorrain. Landschaftsmalerei aus drei Jarhunderten, 12 March - 29 May 1983, no. 162.
Special notice
This lot will be removed to our storage facility at Momart. Christie’s will inform you if the lot has been sent offsite. Our removal and storage of the lot is subject to the terms and conditions of storage which can be found at and our fees for storage are set out in the table below - these will apply whether the lot remains with Christie’s or is removed elsewhere. Please call Christie’s Client Service 24 hours in advance to book a collection time at Momart. All collections from Momart will be by pre-booked appointment only. Tel: +44 (0)20 7839 9060 Email: If the lot remains at Christie’s it will be available for collection on any working day 9.00 am to 5.00 pm. Lots are not available for collection at weekends. This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

Brought to you by

Alastair Plumb
Alastair Plumb Specialist, Head of Sale, European Art

Lot Essay

Corot painted very few grand-scale pictures. Famous for sitting outside and painting from life, Corot produced these large-scale compositions in the winter months, when he could work in his studio and contemplate, through these large canvases, the beauty of nature which had sustained him through the summer. Nymphes et faunes ranks among the masterpieces of these memory pictures.
Corot was also in some sense a theatre director. This characteristic is most pronounced in his large works in which he organizes the composition in terms of light and space as though he was creating a stage-set. This is clearly apparent in Nymphes et faunes.
Apart from the purely formal aspects of the composition, there is always with Corot a deeper sentiment expressed through his art. Corot very often worked or simply walked in the forest at dusk, a time when the last birds were quiet and the nocturnal insects had not yet begun their light chirping. At this moment, filled with admiration for the landscape surrounding him, the artist felt an intense desire to transmit onto canvas this light, the forest, and his deepest emotions. At this brief moment, when the entire universe seemed to be suspended in emptiness, light spirits would come from his brush to fill the void. At first, these figures appear in his paintings as phantoms, almost invisible, and gradually they take their places as players on the stage composed by the artist.
Another characteristic exhibited by Corot in Nymphes et faunes is that his paintings are always in motion: there is clearly a rhythm to the composition which makes the work similar to a well-composed musical piece. In this work, Corot is almost more musician than painter, with his rhythms layered one upon the other, pierced by crescendos. The curtain of trees in the middle-ground are as gentle as the undulation of a great wave, giving their softness to the light and anchoring the composition. Then, in the centre of the painting, piercing the soft veil of trees, a single straight tree trunk bursts up through the middle of the painting. The distant horizon appears behind this tree, an invitation to the viewer to travel into the painting and in so doing, pay a visit to infinity.

More from British and European Art: Part 1

View All
View All