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Property from an Important Private Collection

Rosny (Seine-et-Oise), l'église du village, vue prise du verger de Mme Osmond

Rosny (Seine-et-Oise), l'église du village, vue prise du verger de Mme Osmond
signed 'COROT' (lower right)
oil on canvas
21 3⁄8 x 32 in. (54.3 x 81.3 cm.)
Painted in August-September 1844
Marie Sophie Robert (née Tollay), Mantes (gift from the artist, September 1844).
François Parfait Robert, Mantes (by descent from the above, 1866).
Marie-Adrienne-Eugénie Robert (née L'Évesque), Mantes (by descent from the above, 1875).
Christian and Maurice Robert, Mantes (by descent from the above, 1910).
Francis Demanche and his nephews, Paris (probably acquired from the above, 1926).
Paul Rosenberg et Cie., Paris.
Barbara Harrison and Lloyd Bruce Westcott, Paris and Rosemont, New Jersey (circa 1934, until at least 1969).
E. V. Thaw & Co., New York.
Acquired from the above by the family of the present owner, circa 1972.
B. N., Estampes, Documents sur Corot, Yb3 949 II, folio 69, no. 3.
A. Robaut, Cartons, vol. II, folio 149, 2 September 1876 (illustrated).
H. Marceau, 'Corot: His Techniques Explored and His Stature Heightened in Philadephia's Show,' Art News, New York, May 1946, vol. 45, no. 3, p. 33 (illustrated; titled Rosny Village Church Seen from the Orchard of Mme. Osmond).
A. Robaut, L'œuvre de Corot: Catalogue raisonné et illustré, Paris, 1965, vol. II, pp. 144-145, no. 400 (illustrated).
J. Leymarie, Corot: Biographical and Critical Study, Geneva, 1966, p. 63 (illustrated; titled Rosny-sur-Seine, The Village Church seen from Madame Osmond's Orchard).
J. Leymarie, Corot, Geneva, 1985, p. 70 (illustrated; titled Rosny-sur-Seine, the Village Church).
P.-Y. Louis, 'L'église de Rosny à cent ans' in Le Courrier de Mantes, Mantes, 18 March 1992, no. 3390, p. 22 (illustrated).
G. Tinterow, M. Pantazzi and V. Pomarède, Corot, exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1996, p. 203, no. 87.
R. Walter, Corot à Mantes, Paris, 1997, pp. 110-111, no. 13 (illustrated; titled Rosny, l'église du village, vue prise du verger de Mme Osmond).
Kunsthaus Zürich, Corot, August-October 1934, no. 56 (titled Rosny-sur-Seine, l'église du village, vue prise du verger de Mme Osmond).
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Corot, 1946, no. 20 (illustrated; titled Rosny. l'église du village, vue prise du verger de Mme. Osmond).
New York, Paul Rosenberg & Co., Loan Exhibition of Paintings by J.B.C. Corot, November-December 1956, no. 16 (titled Rosny. l'église du village, vue prise du verger de Mme Osmond).
Art Institute of Chicago, Corot, October-November 1960, no. 59 (illustrated; titled Rosny, Village Church).
New York, Wildenstein & Co. Inc., Corot, October-December 1969, no. 25 (illustrated; titled Rosny, L'Eglise du Village).

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Emily Kaplan
Emily Kaplan Senior Vice President, Senior Specialist, Co-Head of 20th Century Evening Sale

Lot Essay

The 20-year period between 1835 and 1855 is considered a formative moment for Jean-Baptitse-Camille Corot—newly returned from his second trip to Italy, Corot’s success at the Salon of 1835 established his reputation and set him on the path to being, as Philippe de Chennevières declared in 1851, “the greatest landscape painter of our time” (Lettres sur l’art français en 1850, Paris, 1850, p. 75). Dating to the middle of this pivotal era of Corot’s career, the present work was painted circa 1843-44, upon the artist’s return from his third trip to Italy. A bravura demonstration of Corot’s faculty with light and color, Rosny (Seine-et-Oise)-L’Église du village, vue prise du verger de Mme Osmond is not only an extraordinary example of the beautiful light and clarity of line found in Corot’s paintings from the naissance of his artistic maturity, but also a charming tribute to the closeness the artist felt to the family of one of his dearest childhood friends.
The present work was painted in the garden owned jointly by Marie Sophie Robert, the first owner of this painting, and her sister Parfaite-Anastasie Osmond (as indicated by the title), the aunt of Corot’s childhood friend Abel Osmond, in Rosny-sue-Seine, northwest of Paris. Corot wrote to Abel regularly during his time in Italy in 1825-1828, and the letters sent to Abel reveal him as a genuine confidante for the artist, who relayed not only his artistic anxieties but also his amorous exploits on the trip as well. Corot’s closeness with Abel seems to have extended to the whole Osmond family, and he was first introduced to Parfaite-Anastasie in 1822. Even after Abel’s death in 1840 Corot remained close to the family, and it has been suggested by Rodolphe Walter that Corot and Parfaite-Anastasie may have had a romantic entanglement as well.
The child in the foreground of the present work is François-Louis Robert, the son of François-Parfait Robert, who was not only Parfaite-Anastasie’s nephew but Corot’s friend as well. The figure seen in the window at right, looking over her grandson playing in the garden, is Marie Sophie Robert, Parfaite-Anastasie’s sister, with whom she owned the garden and to whom Corot gifted this painting. The Robert family lived in Mantes, the next town over from Rosny, and François-Parfait Robert would ultimately own some 30 paintings by the artist. When Robert traveled to Italy for his honeymoon in 1840 Corot gave him advice on what do and see, and two years later the artist created mural decorations of Italianate landscapes for a bathroom of Robert’s home in Mantes, which are now preserved in the Louvre. In addition to this painting of Louis, Corot painted another smaller more traditional portrait of this child in the same year, which is also now in the Louvre. As part of the Robert family’s extraordinary collection, the present work was in good company as they also owned Venise, vue du Quai des Esclavons, which achieved the artist’s world record price in The Collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller at Christie’s in 2018 among other notable examples.
The building with the square tower in the background is identified as the Rosny town church, though it bears little resemblance to Église Saint-Jean-Baptiste-et-Saint-Lubin as it appears today. Then simply the Église Saint-Lubin, the original church as depicted by Corot was torn down in the in the second half of the nineteenth century and rebuilt in its current form. Corot’s choice to include the church in the composition is particularly poignant, as it not only records the church’s original appearance but also because it was Parfaite-Anastasie who had convinced Corot to donate his Fuite en Égypte to the church in 1840, which led him to a series of religious commissions and subjects in the years immediately following. Like the Fuite en Égypte, Corot’s Chemin de croix series, also painted for the Église Saint-Lubin, was also removed when the original church was demolished.
While Corot’s later works are defined by their poetic vision and loose brushwork, the works from the 1840s and 50s are remarkable for their clarity of line and naturalistic light effects which suggest more direct observation. While the garden itself lies primarily in shadow, the dramatic angle of the light illuminating the tops of the trees and the distant buildings clearly gives the impression of the setting sun in the late afternoon. Capturing the warmth of the light, which had so obsessed Corot during his trips to Italy—he had lamented to Abel, “The sun gives off a light that makes me despair. It makes me feel the utter powerlessness of my palette”—was clearly well within the more mature artist’s grasp, and the buildings, fruiting trees, and clouds it illuminates are beautifully delineated (letter to A. Osmond, March 1826, Musée du Louvre, Paris, A.R. 8, L. 3).
Both Germain Bazin and Jean Leymarie have noted Corot’s tendency when painting children to adopt a more naïve style, likening it to that of the later Henri Rousseau, a comparison which feels particularly apt in the foreground of the present work. Louis, seated next to his children’s gardening tools and a child-sized wheelbarrow, is painted with a charming simplicity, and the dotted in pink, red, and white flowers next to him, an unusual inclusion for the artist, are painted with utmost economy. The rabbit sitting among the foliage at left is another surprising detail for Corot, and seems to reflect this more naïve approach as well.
The warm golden light in the present painting must have represented Corot’s own view of the time he spent in Rosny among the Osmond and Robert families. Corot loved his own parents very much, and lived with them until their deaths when the artist was in his 50s. However his relationship with them was not without its difficulties – his father did not approve of his son’s career as an artist, even after he had achieved significant success and recognition, and his mother was quite controlling of his speech and actions. With the Osmond and Robert families, Corot was welcomed, loved, and embraced as an artist by a chosen family of people who had known him from a young age. In depicting a location so meaningful to him and painting the child of a dear friend within this setting, Rosny (Seine-et-Oise)-L’Église du village, vue prise du verger de Mme Osmond must have been a deeply personal painting for the artist, and a poignant tribute to his time there.

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