Biography of Jean-Baptiste Corot (1796-1875)

French painter born in Paris July 17, 1796 and died in the same city on February 22, 1875. He/She was the son of a Parisian, well accommodated, traders who ran in the Bac Street one of the dearest shops during the first Empire. He/She studied at the Liceo de Rouen, where was sent by his parents from 1807 until 1812 in charge of a tutor and later to Poissy. Back in Paris, it was installed as an apprentice with a few sellers of tissues, but in its absence of interest, their parents consented to begin his training as a painter at the Studio of Achille Etna Michallon (1796-1822), mediocre artist. Died in 1822, his first teacher, started working in the workshop of Victor Bertin (1775-1842), disciple of David, and in whose teaching prevailed the neoclassical lesson joined freedom of the English landscape, with he/she learned to paint from life on the outskirts of Paris.

In 1825, he/she painted his own portrait, work in which there already are all characteristics that define his later work. In 1825, accompanied by his master, he/she made a first trip to Italy, where he/she stayed two years traveling in Bologna, Rome, Naples, Venice and cultivated where the portrait and landscape. Of this moment are works as bridge Narmi, the Basilica of Constantine, the Colosseum and the Forum. They are also now lot of oil sketches, made many of them in Rome, in the company of young neo-classical artists, who have been highly valued in this twentieth century.

Narmi (oil on canvas, 1826-1827) bridge. Museum of the Louvre (Paris).

In 1827, back to Paris, he/she refused marriage projects drawn up by his father and decided to send two of his works to the Salon, which were admitted; He/She subsequently repeated shipments, but more than two works were never accepted him.

In 1829 and 1830, he/she made paintings such as the Pont-au-Change in Paris, Chartres Cathedral, or the portrait of Mme. Baudot, all preserved in the Louvre Museum, where is evident the mastery of color and the richness of shades. In 1831 and 1833, he/she won the Medal of the exhibition hall of the Academy of Paris, with his Magdalene praying.

After these successes, he/she made a decisive trip to Soissons, where he/she met the painter Grandjean, who accompanied him on his second trip to Italy. This trip allowed him to paint numerous landscapes of the surrounding of Volterra, Pisa, Genoa, Venice and Florence, cities that remained for a while, they show a very personal vision of nature. The last years of the Decade of 1930, he/she spent traveling by many French cities; This time are works like the unattentive, that in 1840, was presented at the Paris Salon, and acquired by the State for the Museum of Metz, decision at that time unusual when it comes from the work of a living painter.

His taste for pictorial nomadism, acquired from his first trip to Italy in search of the most appropriate time for each landscape, made you feel deeply moved in Switzerland before the mists of Lake Como, which led him to adopt in his last time funds flooded into mist. Switzerland will be a country that will return again and again.

These landscapes were described by himself in his writing the day of a landscape "[...]The landscape is completely immersed in the fog that rises, rises, rises, attracted by the Sun and leave, when you get up, which will see the Silver River, trees, houses and the far end. Stands out, finally, what you felt at the beginning [...]"

The fame of Corot became increasingly stronger. He/She continued participating in classrooms and in 1842, made their last trip to Italy. In 1848, for the first time were admitted him in the living room nine works. In 1857, in its permanent wandering, travelled around England and in 1854 by Holland, travel that confirmed you in your choice for quiet and Misty landscapes.

In 1850, it enjoyed the official recognition and the public. Writers and critics, such as Baudelaire, Gautier and Chamfleury, wrote articles praising his work. In 1856, executed four large murals for the Church of Ville-d'Avray. At the top of the success Corot showed a generous personality: it protected to the widow of the painter Millet, to Daumier and, on numerous occasions, signed works of unfortunate companions.

Even though he/she made many portraits, his real passion was landscape painting. Corot, in theory, objected both to the tenets of romanticism in medallions and prayer as the academic, while his work falls fully within the ways of making the first trend. The realist painters didn't like of his works, reproaching her landscapes were mythological characters, nymphs, and not vulgar peasants. His paintings are characterized by a refined elegance and its landscapes painted outdoors investigations prepared impressionism.

Corot. River landscape.


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FRANCASTEL, p.: History of French painting (Madrid, 1970).