Souvenir d'Italie. La Cueillette, c. 1865-70 by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (French, 1796 - 1875)
Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot
French, 1796 - 1875

Souvenir d'Italie. La Cueillette

c. 1865-70
Oil on canvas laid on board
18 1/4 x 22 inches (46.36 x 55.88 centimeters)
Framed: 27 1/2 x 31 inches (69.85 x 78.74 centimeters)

Signed lower right: COROT


Knoedler Galleries, no. 5575.
Passed by descent from great-grandparents to previous owner, Cooksey Family, New Haven, CT.

This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity from Martin Dieterle and Claire Lebeau and will be included in the sixth supplement to L’Oeuvre de Corot, catalogue raisonné.

It is in the landscapes of the late 1860s that views from Corot’s early trips to Italy lose their bright clarity and take on the misty, silver, poetic quality unique to his “Souvenirs”. The present composition, subtitled La Cueillette, or the fruit harvest, depicts a peasant woman picking berries in a lush, mountainous landscape. She stands in a grassy plateau at the edge of a densely wooded grove, its interior obscured by rich, black shadows. Warm light casts a golden hue on the horizon and on the rocky outcropping that closes the composition at left. The same warm, pale tones define the upper branches of a tall tree that leans out of the grove and closes the view along the horizon, holding the viewer’s eye firmly in the foreground scene. The impression of green, rolling mountains with a vast valley in the distance probably place this work in the Roman Campagna. Just the same, an exact location is not designated, neither in the title of the work, nor in any identifiable structures or features within the landscape. Instead, what is portrayed is an imaginary view, generalized and perfected by the function of memory, and transformed into a symbol of an idyllic Italy.

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (French, 1796 - 1875)

Jean Baptiste Camille Corot was born in Paris on July 16, 1796. His first teacher was Achille Etna Michallon, a landscapist who studied in Rome. The time Corot spent with Michallon was brief, as Michallon died later that same year. His influence, however, was immense, for it was he who had suggested to Corot that he carefully study out-of doors. Corot afterwards studied with Jean Victor Bertin, who had also been Michallon?s teacher. In 1817, Corot?s father bought a country home in Ville d?Avray, and the countryside became a tremendous source of inspiration for the young artist. With the financial support of his family, Corot traveled to Italy in 1825; his simple, direct interpretations of what he saw caused a stir among his colleagues. Corot left Rome in 1826 and traveled throughout much of Italy, returning to France in 1828. It was then that Corot began to establish his pattern of spending the warm months painting out of doors, and the winter in his studio, preparing his large canvases for the official Salon where he exhibited regularly beginning in 1831. Corot returned to Italy in 1834, and, in 1835, passed his first warm season in Fontainebleau. Official recognition soon followed, and the French government purchased Little Shepherd from him in 1840. After one more trip to Italy in 1843, Corot spent most of his time in France painting the landscape of his native country, especially at the family property at Ville d?Avray. By the late 1840s, Corot knew Rousseau, Millet, Troyon, Diaz and Dupré, and met them often at Fontainebleau. His freshly painted canvases done in plein-air attracted a wide circle of painters, and it can be said that Corot became the father of landscape painting in France.

Selected Museum Collections:
Musée du Louvre and Musée d?Orsay, Paris; Metropolitan Museum of Art and Frick Collection, New York; National Gallery, London; National Gallery of Art, Washington DC; Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam; Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge; National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; Art Institute of Chicago; New Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen; Dallas Museum of Art; Detroit Institute of Arts; National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Courtauld Institute of Art, the British Museum, and The Wallace Collection, London; Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid; Musée des Beaux-Arts, Marseilles; Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow; Neue Pinakothek, Munich; Chrysler Museum, Norfolk, VA; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; Chi-Mei Museum, Taiwan; National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo; Musée des Augustins, Toulouse; Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, Vienna

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