Camille Corot

"Drawing is the first thing to work on, then the tonal values. Look for the relationship between shape and value. These are the essential starting points."

Camille Corot c. 1825

One of the most admired and copied French landscape artists of the 19th century, who understood the importance of painting out of doors, well before the Impressionists. He was also well traveled, incessantly looking for new sites and subjects for his paintings.

Camille Corot did not have a classical art education at the École des Beaux-arts, but instead he studied with two painters, Achille-Etna Michallon and Jean-Victor Bertin, both students of Pierre-Henri Valenciennes. Corot traveled to Italy in 1825 until 1828 to further refine his skills and knowledge. It was during this time he painted The Bridge at Narni and exhibited in the Salon of 1827. Corot produced history paintings, mythological and biblical subject that were submitted to the annual Salons in addition to producing a range of allegorical subjects, portraits and genre paintings, but he was known and beloved as a landscape artist.

Corot was admired for his talent of capturing subtle light effects and gradations of tone. He developed a system of recording light effects in his drawings. The National Gallery has paintings, drawings and prints as well as works produced with an experimental medium that combined printmaking and photography called cliché-verre. His techniques were of great interest to the Impressionists in particular Pissaro, Morisot and Monet. Corot died just after the first Impressionist exhibition. He exhibited extensively in the Salon and was named Chevalier of the Legion of Honour in 1846.

Nadar, Félix (1820-1910)
Camille Corot
Photo: Hervé Lewandowski
Musée d'Orsay, Paris, France
Photo Credit : Réunion des Musées
Nationaux / Art Resource, NY