Fountainbleu the Chailly Road, 1822-1824
In 1823, Camille Corot graciously received his friends into his first artist studio, set up at 15 Quai Voltaire, near his family, within the beautiful setting of the Seine. Following in the footsteps of many French artists, he began to study the paintings in The Louvre. He received advice that he was never to forget from Achille-Etna Michallon, an established French landscape painter, “Look closely and be truthful in rendering nature.” After this mentor’s premature death in 1822, Corot moved on to the studio of Jean-Victor Bertin, a well recognized neoclassical landscape painter. It was during this time that Corot started combining the French neoclassical with the English and Dutch schools of realistic landscape art in his paintings.
In the early 19th Century, landscape imagery was perceived by the classical artists and art critics to be unworthy as the dominant subject matter in a painting.
At the time Corot embraced it, he was one of the few wielding a new path in the world of art.
The early forays into landscape art created new ideas and techniques regarding the ever essential form. Rendering nature as the ruling subject was in great opposition to the old classicist’s view that only the gods or the divined man of god could reign as king of the canvas. Nature, to them, was merely a surrounding backdrop for the human subject.
But to the landscape painter, especially to Corot, man lost this isolated importance within the context of his new cosmos, becoming merely one of the many organic parts of nature. It has been said that in a few of his works, he had other artists paint in the figures after he had completed his work, so disinterested was he in this part of his landscape creations.
Lake Between Geneva and the Alps, 1825
Windmill on the Cote de Picardie, near Versailles, 1835