Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot
1796-1875 • French — Regarded by many as the first Impressionist, his paintings bear anticipations of the plein air technique and "truth to nature" that the revolutionary movement sought to express. His work served as the inspiration for an entire generation of artists. Claude Monet said of him, "There is only one master here—Corot. We are nothing compared to him, nothing."
Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot is considered the essential artistic link between the 18th and 19th centuries. Known for his incomparable landscapes, Corot's work is placed among the finest ever created during the 19th century. He received a classical education in Rouen before embarking upon an apprenticeship in the family textile trade. Painting was his true passion and he soon devoted his entire life to perfecting his skill. Corot studied first with Achille Etna Michallon and Jean-Victor Bertin, both pupils of the leading historical landscape painter Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes. He visited the countryside of Rome and produced plein air studies, capturing the area's natural beauty and classical antiquity. His fresh, starkly-lit renditions reflect the debate of the day that sought to reconcile classically-inspired idealizations with closely observed depictions of light and climate.
He debuted at the Paris Salon in 1827 and continued to display there his entire life. As a result, many of these paintings were purchased by the state for provencial museums and by important collectors such as Emperor Napoleon III. For his enduring contribution to the arts, Corot was made a Knight of the Legion of Honor in 1846 and an Officer in 1867. At the Munich International Exposition of 1869, he was made a Knight of the Order of St. Michael.