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Exhibition displays around sixty figure-based works by Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot
Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot, Bacchante à la panthère, vers 1855-1860 (detail). Oil on canvas, 54, 6 x 95, 3 cm. Shelburne (Vermont), Shelburne Museum © Shelburne Museum.

PARIS.- Under the curatorship of Sebastian Allard, General Heritage Curator and Director of the Department of Paintings in the Musée du Louvre, the exhibition ‘Corot. Le peintre et ses modèles’ (‘Corot: the painter and his models’) is the first Parisian event devoted to the artist’s work since the major retrospective held in 1996 in the Grand Palais. On view in the Musée Marmottan Monet between 8 February and 8 July 2018, the exhibition brings together an exceptional ensemble of figurative paintings and highlights the most intimate, secret, and modern aspects of the artist’s works.

Primarily famous for his landscapes and studies of motifs, which opened the way for the modernism of the Impressionists, Camille Corot also painted figures. However, the master preferred to keep these works in his studio, from where they rarely departed, and even then they only went to a few friends, dealers, and collectors.

The exhibition displays around sixty of these figure-based works, loaned by the most prestigious public and private collections in Europe and the United States (such as the Musée du Louvre, the National Gallery in London, the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the National Gallery in Washington, the Kunsthalle in Hamburg, the Belvedere in Vienna, and the Bührle Foundation in Zurich), with the intention of exploring this relatively unknown side of the artist’s œuvre. There are masterpieces such as the famous Femme à la Perle (Woman With a Pearl), the Louvre’s Dame en Bleu (Lady in Blue), and the National Gallery’s impressive Italienne (Italian Woman), which was once held in the collection of the painter Lucian Freud, along with other works that are just as splendid but rarely seen, such as his nudes.

These are the most personal examples of the works of the artist, who is primarily famous for his landscape paintings. The exhibition focuses on portraits he made of his family and, above all, explores the secrets of his studio, in which some of the most famous models of the time posed for him (for example, Emma Dobigny); they were the same models who posed for Manet and Degas. As Delacroix’s contemporary, Corot belonged to the generation that preceded that of ‘the new painting’, which was initiated by Degas and Manet; it was with his paintings of figures, rather than his landscapes, that, in around 1850–60, his dialogue with them began, as attested by La Dame en Bleu (Lady in Blue).

The exhibition highlights the essential role played by Corot’s figures in the emergence of modern painting, particularly in his emphasis on a certain form of realism and the sitter’s role. It also reveals the diversity and versatility of the works produced in this field. While his variations on the theme of the Italian or Greek woman, the woman reading, or the lady at the fountain invite the viewer into an indefinably melancholic poetic universe, few are aware today that Corot executed magnificent and spectacular nudes, some of which have an almost surrealistic strangeness, like the Shelburne Museum’s Bacchante à la Panthère (Bacchante with a Panther). Although he focused on female figures, which were glorified, especially in the monumental portraits executed towards the end of his life, he also represented men in series of works that will be displayed, featuring monks reading or playing music and men wearing armour.

This exhibition—which highlights the point at which realism emerged from Romanticism, somewhere between Romanticism and Impressionism—sheds new light on one of the geniuses of nineteenth-century French painting, an artist who is too often associated solely with landscape painting.

Today's News

February 25, 2018

Exhibition displays around sixty figure-based works by Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot

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