La Marietta, 1843
Corot’s third and last trip to Italy was made in 1843, a journey that produced La Marietta and Gardens of the Villa d’Este at Tivoli. This voyage lasted less than two years, where upon making his way back to Paris, he visited Normandy. This detour became the inspiration for his composition, Homer and the Shepherds, which critics acclaimed, leading to Camille Corot receiving the highest French award, the Cross of the Legion of Honor.
In 1851 shortly after Camille’s mother died, he went to live with his friend, Constant Dutilleux at Arras. The Dutilleuxes became his closest family, through whom he met Alfred Robaut, who would become like a son to him and eventually, his biographer. There is no doubt that the damp climate of northern France with its filtered and diffused misty light, transformed his paintings into lyrically poetic compositions. In this light, contours become blurred and values turned more subtle, leading to the silvery palette of his idolized Souvenir collection.
St. Catherine-les-Arras-Fields with trees and cottages, 1872
Souvenir du pont de Mantes, 1865-1869
His paintings would forever be transformed into an imagery of secretive pensive reverie.
Corot shifted between many styles and groups. Neoclassicism, Realism, and Romanticism, all had their place in his paintings.
Gardens of the Villa d'Este at Tivoli, 1843
Souvenir of St. Jean de Luz, 1872
Not quite fitting in with the Barbizon School, he adhered more closely to the Classical tradition. But his attitude toward even this was very different from most traditional artists.
It was the spirit, and not the form of tradition which lived in him, and all unconsciously inspired him. He determined to paint only what he saw, but even in his earliest traditional Italian landscapes, his hand played him the trick of desiring to give more than his eye had seen. Some of the charm of this period may come from the suppressed mystery we seem to sense beneath the conscientious realism of these paintings.
Souvenir of Italy, 1854
Homer and the Shepherds, 1846