COROT, Jean-Baptiste Camille
(b. 1796, Paris, d. 1875, Paris)

The Solitude. Recollection of Vigen, Limousin

Oil on canvas, 95 x 130 cm
Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid

The Barbizon School played an outstanding role in the history of modern landscape painting. This was a group of young artists who in the 1830s and 40s sought the beauties of the unsullied landscape, a rural idyll, the un dramatic yet inspirited 'paysage intime' in the forest of Fontainebleau. They finally settled in the village of Barbizon, where they were occasionally joined by Camille Corot, the major artist of the group.

Corot's works embody the essence of a landscape painting of airily rendered, basically ordinary scenes populated now and then with mythological figures. These were alternative images to an economically and touristically exploited nature. Inspiration came from seventeenth-century Dutch landscapes and those of the Englishman John Constable, but especially from the new turn to open-air painting and its capturing of atmospheric, evanescent effects. This notwithstanding, Corot generally finished his works in the studio. Using a limited range of colour, especially earthy greens, a silvery gray, ocher and their gradations, contrasted with a bright sky, Corot engendered a lovely, melodious harmony that clothed nature in a Late Romantic, magical mood.

In The Solitude, the artist has done without all mythological trappings. A female figure, reclining and as if lost in thought, is sufficient to lend this, one of the Barbizon master's most elegiac landscapes, an incomparable mood of loneliness and yearning.