COROT, Jean-Baptiste Camille
(b. 1796, Paris, d. 1875, Paris)
Oil on canvas, 132 x 98 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington
Seen slightly from below as she leans on a stone balustrade, the figure of a young Italian woman rises monumentally and with well-nigh classical statuesqueness against an atmospherically diaphanous background, consisting of a rocky slope with farmhouses, a tree trunk cut off at the right edge of the canvas, and a predominant sky dotted with small, gold-tinged clouds. The dense blue and black hues of the woman's garments set the figure off markedly from the background ambience.
The dignified and serious basic mood of the picture is concentrated above all in the melancholy, shaded eye area of the face. The Italian costume, exquisite pearl necklace, and especially the noble facial features framed by wonderfully arranged black hair, exude a classical dignity, as if some figure of ancient legend had suddenly materialized before our eyes. She embodies the land of longing, Italy, and the charm of that intermingling of classical grandeur and subjective mood which every Romantic current in art again and again sought in the Mediterranean world.