In 1796, Camille Corot was conceived in a now-defunct house on Paris’s 125 Rue du Bac. He came from a wealthy family; his mother was a milliner, and his father created wigs. One of the original founders of the Barbizon school of landscape painting was Jean Baptiste Camille Corot. His unwavering passion for European landscapes would inspire works of art that would influence the genre we know today.
His Early Years
Corot, who was born to parents who owned a chic millinery boutique, was a member of the bourgeoisie and never faced any financial difficulties. However, he struggled in school and wasn’t the best student. He, too, failed to become a wig maker like his father.
Corot’s parents eventually gave him an allowance to follow his love for painting when he was 25 years old. He studied the major works of art housed at the Louver and worked as an apprentice under Jean-Victor Bertin and Achille-Etna Michallon for a while.
Without much material concern, he would continue to travel and gather ideas for his landscape paintings. But, briefly, he wasn’t the struggling artist we frequently read about.
Jean Baptiste Camille Corot’s paintings actually didn’t sell very much in the 1830s, even though they were frequently displayed at the Salon de Paris. His work didn’t take off until the 1840s and 1850s. Then, unfortunately, Corot’s dad passed away in 1847, just after seeing that the money he had provided to support his son’s artistic goals had not been in vain.
Jean Baptiste Camille Corot’s Paintings Style
Throughout his career, the famous Jean Baptiste painter occasionally enjoyed painting simple topographical landscapes, capturing structures like the Chartres Cathedral (1830) or the Douai Belfry (1871) exactly as he saw them. However, the fundamental distinction in his art was between the little, direct, spontaneous drawing drawn from nature and the completed, huge painting created for the Salon.
Early in the 19th century, the drawing was deemed unfit for public display, and only a select few discerning collectors were willing to purchase such works of art. These were deemed even more respectable if they contained a few minor individuals comparable to legendary, literary, or biblical heroes.
Therefore, Jean Corot displayed artwork with names like Homer and the Shepherds (1845), Christ in the Garden of Olives (1845), Hagar in the Wilderness (1835), and Diana Surprised by Actaeon (1836).
Corot incidentally utilized figures in his paintings since the landscape was his primary subject matter, much like the 17th-century artist Claude Lorrain did. However, to convey a sense of soft melancholy, Corot created a new category of landscapes in the 1860s called Souvenirs. These paintings typically feature a lake and slender trees drawn in overall silvery tonality.
He also painted several portraits and figured studies at the end of his life, focusing mainly on young girls in his studio clutching a flower or a musical instrument or gazing at a landscape on the easel.
Corot established a strict schedule in which he painted constantly. His mastery of the interplay between tones and colors, which makes his work so wonderful, was the result of his concentration and continual repetition. By the 1850s, merchants and collectors were clamoring for his artwork, so Corot was no longer concerned about money.
He kept sending large photos to the Salons, where they sold for a lot of money. As a result, Corot’s artwork has received numerous honors. The Bridge at Narni, Corot’s first significant piece, was exhibited at the 1827 Salon.
Later, in 1833, critics at the Salon honored his landscape of the Fontainebleau forest with a second-class medal. This prize was important because it allowed him to exhibit his paintings without first going through the entry process and seeking the jury’s approval.
His career took off after the state bought The Little Shepherd in 1840. Charles Baudelaire, an art critic, stated that Corot ranks at the top of the comprehensive school of landscape five years after receiving this award.
He received the first-class medal from the Paris Universal Exposition in 1855, and Emperor Napoleon III purchased one of his works. Corot was then admitted to the Legion of Honor in 1846, and the following year, he was given the rank of officer.
Numerous people praised and hailed his work. Corot was less interested in fame and reputation throughout his life, but he did maintain a rather conservative outlook. Nevertheless, the artist’s distinctive painting style inspired him to produce these incredible works of art, which helped him win the important honors stated above.
Surprisingly, Jean Baptiste’s art never depicted the massive railway network that blanketed France during his lifetime and the commercial and industrial growth that completely changed the nation.
The Influence of His Style
Corot’s position in the chronology of 19th-century painting is unquestionably secure because of the influence of his style. When he first began sketching, the landscape sketch was primarily seen as a starting point for more thoughtful work and had little artistic significance. However, one of the first to demonstrate that the sketch possessed vigor and spontaneity, a fundamental truth about nature that a more finished image lacked, was him.
When he passed away, the sketch had gained popularity, and any artificiality or ruse in a landscape painting was seen with distrust. Nevertheless, the Impressionist landscape artists looked to Corot and learned much from him.
Jean Corot was highly conservative, so his success didn’t really matter. He always put in a lot of effort since he was passionate about his work, but this took up much of his free time. His latter work—both portraits and landscapes—aspired to the qualities of music, and he enjoyed discussing the harmonies of his paintings.
It is simple to understand why Jean Baptiste Camille Corot received so many outstanding and prestigious accolades throughout his life because he was a very skilled and bright artist.