Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot is always considered a genius amongst 19th century art historians. As the father of the Barbizon School, his images are praised for their elegant atmospheric qualities and gentle brushstrokes. Furthermore, his work is credited as a major influence on the later Impressionist movement.
One of the most compelling aspects of L’entrée du Chemin Creux, in my opinion, is its ability to blur the distinction between landscape and dreamscape. Corot achieves this with exceptional play of light, capturing the scene as the morning sun emerges. The unusual composition also contributes to this sentiment. The proportion of the figures (cow and peasant) to the surrounding trees is significant; here Corot really glorifies the vastness of nature.
Additionally, the painting has an impressive provenance; it was part of important French art collector Baron E. de Beurnonville’s large collection around 1880. Under American ownership, the painting was exhibited in Providence, Rhode Island. Of particular note, the painting later belonged to Bruno Pagliai, an Italian-born tycoon and close friend of Avila Camacho, former president of Mexico. Pagliai’s respected private art collection included works by El Greco, Botticelli, Van Dyck, Dali, Rivera and Corot. Under his ownership, the painting was loaned to the Museum of Modern Art in Mexico City for many years.
In admiring the piece, Monet’s famous quote about Corot comes to mind, “There is only one master here–Corot. We are nothing compared to him. Nothing.” This serene and captivating scene justifies Monet’s veneration for the artist; L’entrée du Chemin Creux is an exquisite example of this genius’ work.
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