Jean Baptiste Camille Corot
(Paris 1796-1875 Versailles)
Corot painted pastoral scenes throughout his career, mixing the two great French traditions of Realism and Neoclassicism in his woodland landscapes. By the 1870s he had moved away from the strong shadows and wide ranging palette of his earlier years in favour of a narrower colour range with more subtle tones. The result being less dramatic and impressive but more poetic and subtle. The influence of early photography is evident. It is very difficult to accurately date much of his work. His technique for his landscapes was to sketch during the summer and work them up into finished paintings in the studio over the remainder of the year. He would also put works away and return to them at a later date.
By 1870 he was very much 'Père Corot', a father figure for the new generation of landscape painters, highly revered with influences and references stretching so far and in so many different directions. It is possible to see in his work the landscape tradition stretching back to Claude and beyond. It is also possible to see his influence on the Barbizon artists, Impressionism and even Matisse's pastoral idylls.