Early in his career, Corot made three trips to Italy. He lived and worked there as a student in December of 1825 and in the fall of 1828. He returned for two six-month sketching and painting trips - one in 1834 through Northern Italy and Tuscany, the other from May-October of the same year when he was in and around Rome and Southern Italy. His explorations of the Italian countryside would leave a strong impression on him. Later in his life, he would revisit the subject of Italian landscapes in a series of works he appropriately titled Souvenirs. These compositions, generally worked up in the studio, were based on Corot's own personal recollections, as well as numerous sketches made earlier during his Italian sojourn.
As was the case in many of these paintings, the composition reveals a synthesis of elements from both his early and mature styles. For example, Corot chooses not to shroud the village in a veil of trees, but allows the composition to remain wide open to the expanse of the sky and the hills beyond, a stylistic recollection of his early years in Italy painting and sketching en plein air.
While the exact location depicted in the present work is not apparent, the title suggests that the landscape is strongly reminiscent of the countryside of Tuscany. Corot spent roughly six weeks in Tuscany in the summer of 1834, spending time in Florence and the small hill town of Volterra. While the distant hill town, rendered with crisp lines and constructed with a stark palette of cool colors, strongly hints of his earlier treatment of architecture in Italy, the dense and misty build-up of foliage in the foreground and his rendering of the figures and the trees were drawn directly from Corot's contemporary renditions of the French countryside.
The years between 1855-60 marked a time when Corot was actively exhibiting his works in the Salons and Expositions Universelle, gaining much critical acclaim. Les dénicheurs Toscans was first documented in the collection of Arthur Stevens, a dealer-collector who helped to promote Corot's painting outside of France.
This work has been examined and authenticated by Martin Dieterle.
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