Jean Baptiste Camille Corot
Jean Baptiste Camille Corot French landscape painter. Original painting.
Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, born in Paris in 1796, was the son of a prosperous draper and of a mother well known as a fashionable modiste in the years of the Empire and the Restoration. The infant was put in the care of a nurse in a village near L’Isle-Adam on the Oise river, where he grew into a sturdy and cheerful country boy. After grammar school in Paris, he attended a lycée in Rouen (1807-1812) under the guardianship of M. Sennegon, a quiet man and lover of nature, who often took him on meditative evening walks. Two further years in a boarding school near Paris concluded his formal studies, which, though far from brilliant, left him with a predilection for classical literature and its values of harmony and style.
His tastes inclined him to art, but his father wanted him to become a merchant. Apprenticed to a draper, Corot demonstrated his incompetence for business. Placed in another firm, under an indulgent manager, he proved employable as a delivery boy, though much given to admiring the sky and loitering at shop windows. To satisfy his appetite for work with pencil and brush, he enrolled in evening sessions at the private Académie Suisse, where, for a fee, he could draw the posing model.
He was a French landscape and portrait painter as well as a printmaker in etching. He is a pivotal figure in landscape painting and his vast output simultaneously references the Neo-Classical tradition and anticipates the plein-air innovations of Impressionism.
When in 1822, aged twenty-six, he was still without a profession, his parents despaired of his fitness for moneymaking and settled an annuity on him that allowed him to go his own way. He found a studio near his parents’ shop and took instruction from a painter of his own age, Achille-Etna Michallon (1796-1822), laureate of the Rome Prize for Historical Landscape in 1817, who had recently returned from Rome.