Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot

Dates1796 - 1875

Corot spent much of his life without widespread appreciation by France's artistic establishment or the public. Undeterred and blessed with an independent income, he pursued his own course: to preserve the freshness of his impressions of nature. The Impressionists, whom he later befriended, embraced this intention, but unlike them, Corot painted only sketches outdoors; he composed his finished paintings in the studio.

When Corot was twenty-six, he decided to make art his career. With his father's financial support, he received training and traveled, visiting Italy three times. On his first trip, he painted small landscape studies with simple forms and a crisp, pure light that influenced many younger painters. In the 1850s, Corot began painting the silvery, feathery landscapes that brought him such popularity-and were frequently forged, even in his own lifetime. Still later, for his own pleasure, he painted figures, which he seldom exhibited.

Kindly "Père Corot" was universally beloved and generous. He supported Jean-François Millet's widow and bought a house for the ailing, destitute Honoré Daumier.