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Les hauteurs de Sèvres - Le chemin Troyon

Les hauteurs de Sèvres - Le chemin Troyon
oil on canvas
9 1/4 x 14 1/2 in. (23.5 x 36.8 cm.)
Painted circa 1835-40.
Commissioned from the artist by M. Preschez, Coulommiers.
with Arthur Tooth & Sons, Ltd., London, by 22 October 1946, until 16 December 1946.
Richard Frank Heathcoat-Amory (1903-1957), London; (†) his sale, Sotheby's, London, 4 July 1962, lot 41, where acquired by,
W. Goetz (possibly Walter (1911-1995), London or William (1903-1969), New York and Los Angeles).
Private collection, England; Christie's, London, 24 June 1991, lot 2.
Private foundation, Europe; Christie's, New York, 25 May 1994, lot 154A.
Anonymous sale; Christie's, London, 24 June 1998, lot 5, where acquired by the present owner.
'Old Masters and New: Fine Pictures From a London Gallery,' Illustrated London News, London, 19 October 1942, CCIX, p. 445, illustrated.
A. Schoeller and J. Dieterle, Corot, deuxième supplément à l'oeuvre de Corot, Paris, 1956, no. 11, illustrated.
C. Lloyd and A. Renshaw, Pissarro, London, 1992, p. 32, fig. 18, illustrated.
London, Arthur Tooth & Sons, Ltd., Recent Acquisitions, 22 October-16 November 1946, no. 5.
Special notice
This lot is offered without reserve.

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Lot Essay

Les Hauteurs de Sevres – Le Chemin Troyon is dated 1835-40, shortly after Corot’s return from his second trip to Italy and is a prime example of the tranquil and reassuring images that contributed greatly to Corot’s fame at the turn of the twentieth century. These visions of timeless rural contentment appealed strongly to the French sensibility and their rustic simplicity offered an alternative to the bustle of modern life. These views of the French countryside were a specialty of the painters of the Barbizon School, and the present work also displays a similarity with the painters of the French realist tradition in the depiction of a simpler way of life. Perhaps in these paintings Corot comes closest to the work of Jean Francois Millet. While Millet monumentalized the peasant and the nobility of labor, Corot here has emphasized the peace and serenity of a way of life. Although the emphasis is different, the sentiment remains the same.

Les Hauteurs de Sevres – Le Chemin Troyon depicts a road in Ville d’Avray and was commissioned directly from the artist by a friend, M. Preschez, who was a solicitor from Coulommiers. Corot often created these small scale, spontaneous paintings as gifts to his hosts and friends during his visits to the French countryside.

In the present work, Corot has created a study of mid-day light in the height of summer and Les Hauteurs de Sevres – Le Chemin Troyon displays the characteristics which would come to define the mature work of the ‘poet of the landscape’. The device of a path or track leading upward and backward into the composition, often with a gentle turn to punctuate the recession, was a recurring motif throughout Corot’s oeuvre. The figure of the peasant woman seen from behind anchors the foreground, and the lush greens on each side of the path draw the eye into the middle-ground. The landscape slowly dissolves into the blurred vista of the distance, created with a palette of lavenders, greys and pinks, which is carried into the cloud-studded sky. The entire landscape is bathed with the silvery light so often associated with the entire oeuvre of the artist, and clearly displays the impact of his two trips to Italy on the young artist.

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