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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Corot: Figurative Works

Self-Portrait with Palette - 1835

Jean Baptiste Camille Corot (1796-1875) is one of history's greatest landscape painters. He attained that honored position, and public acceptance, rather late in life. In fact he was in his fifties before he began to make a living from painting.

Woman with a Pearl - 1868

Portraiture and figurative studies were important to him throughout his career. It is documented that even on his first trip to Italy in the 1820's, he executed a number of fine studies of the local people.
There is no confusion that these are the works of Corot. This is what one would expect his figurative works to look like. There is the same restrained palette with strong emphasis on value rather than color. There is the same sense of perfect balance and solidity as found in his landscapes...and just as his landscapes are enveloped with a great sense of calm and melancholy, so are his figurative works.

Woman Reading in a Landscape

In 1869 at the Paris Salon, Corot exhibited "Woman Reading in a Landscape". Amazingly, during his 79 years, it was the only figurative work he ever exhibited...and even it was not well received or appreciated by the critics. These works were painted entirely for himself, and, although they are today highly esteemed, they were virtually unknown during his lifetime.

Old Man in Corot's Studio, Rome - 1826

Corot greatly admired the work of Rembrandt and also found inspiration in Dutch seventeenth-century genre painting.
There is a sculptural quality about his work, aided by his economy of color and densely applied paint. Picasso's early work finds its roots in Corot. Degas, Renoir, Delacroix, Cezanne, Monet, Manet, Millet...the list goes on and on...all influenced by and greatly admired Corot's figurative works.

The Artist's Studio - 1865

It's interesting how tastes change. What was fashionable in Corot's day, what made him a wealthy man, the paintings most prized by collectors...the poetic, are the least admired.

Lady in Blue - 1874

Totally unappreciated were his figurative works, and to a lesser degree, his landscapes painted directly from nature.
Today, they are regarded to be among his best works.

Upcoming Workshops:
Three important workshops are scehduled for 2011. The focus of each will be Value and Color. I hope you will make plans to attend at least one of them. Click on the links below for details:
2-4 March - Dallas, TX
13-16 April - Pontotoc, MS
2-4 June - Wichita, KS -



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