Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot was born on July 16, 1796, in Paris, France. He was a painter and printmaker and is a pivotal figure in landscape painting. His work simultaneously references the Neo-Classical tradition and anticipates the plein-air innovations of Impressionism.
In 1897, Claude Monet proclaimed, “There is only one master here - Corot. We are nothing compared to him, nothing." Degas preferred his figures to his landscapes, and Picasso pays overt homage to Corot’s influence on his classical figures.
Corot first entered the business world with the influence and help of his father, but he hated commercial life. He did not turn to oil painting until 1821 and began immediately with landscapes.
From 1821 to 1822, Corot studied with Achille Etna Michallon, a landscape painter who was a protégé of the famous Jacques-Louis David. This experience had a profound effect on his work. He also studied with Jean-Victor Bertain, who was one of the best known neoclassical painters in France. Corot ultimately applied both Neo-Classical tradition and Impressionism to his paintings.
After his training, which included trips to Italy, Corot focused on preparing large landscapes for presentation in the Paris Salon. His first entry to the Salon took place in 1827, and he exhibited again in 1831 and 1833.
He traveled and painted in Barbizon and throughout France, concentrating on rustic landscapes and mirroring his Italian methods. While there, he met the members of the Barbizon School: Theodore Rousseau, Paul Huet, Constant Tryon, Jean-Francois Millet, and Charles-Francois Daubigny.
Even though Corot’s works were flatly rejected for the Salon exhibition during the 1840s, Baudelaire led the charge pronouncing Corot the leader in the “Modern School of landscape painting." In 1846, the French government decorated Corot with the Order of Légion d'Honneur. The Salon awarded him a second-class medal and admitted him as a member of the jury in 1848. In 1867, the Salon promoted him to officer status.
By the mid-1850s, Corot’s impressionistic style began to gain the recognition that solidified his place in French art. He continued to paint for most of his life.
Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot died in Paris, France on February 22, 1875.
Today, the works of Corot can be found in important private collections worldwide, as well as in public collections, including the Musee du Louvre, Musee d’Orsay, Musee Conde, The Wallace Collection, The National Gallery of Art, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art.