Woman with a Pearl. Paris: Musée du Louvre.
Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot, the first of the great modern landscapists, was born in Paris. The son of a wealthy cloth merchant, Corot was a businessman before he became, at the age of twenty-six, an artist. Consequently, he was able to paint without the necessity of selling his work. After a period of study with two academic painters, Corot went to Italy in 1825 where he spent two years roaming the countryside outside Rome as had Claude Lorrain two centuries before. Unlike Claude, however, Corot did not sketch; he painted directly from nature upon small canvases, observing carefully, translating his visual experiences directly and concentrating on architectural clarity and the play of light upon volume. This process led to an entirely new concept of landscape painting. Corot kept his discoveries to himself, however, and sent only Neoclassical landscapes to the Paris Salons.
In 1828 he returned to France to paint in the soft, gentle light of the Ile-de-France, near Paris. In this period, Corot produced a group of hazy landscapes with misty grays veiling nature's color, an effect achieved by overpainting while his underpainting was still wet. This was a revolutionary step that led further along the path followed by the Impressionists. Corot continued to paint in almost entire obscurity and it was not until 1848 that it became known that he also painted figures with an exquisite poetic grace.
By 1855, his work was in great demand and he was able, because of his private income and his position on the admissions jury for the Salons, to assist many young and struggling artists, either by gifts of money or by signing his name to canvases by those less fortunate than he was. Corot painted more than three thousand works: small sketches and paintings from nature done in Italy, France, Switzerland, and Holland; large Salon works on historical themes; figure paintings and; and after 1850, landscapes painted from memory in the misty green tonality with which his name is associated. Corot's influence upon modern art was profound for he was the first to study nature and so was able to give his works that quality of the real that comes from direct and immediate visual experience. (Source: 3D-Dali.com)Corot quote: "Listen to the advice of others, but follow only what you understand and can unite in your own feeling. Be firm, be meek, but follow your own convictions. It is better to be nothing than an echo of other painters."