Overview

The impressionist style developed as a method to render more accurately the appearance of the natural world, and was principally a technique for landscape painting. Corot, whose career began in the late 1820s when the academic tradition of landscape painting was being revived, was one of the most prolific and influential exponents of the genre. Forest of Fontainebleau, painted for and exhibited at the Salon of 1834, is a historic landscape, the hybrid category devised to elevate the status of landscape painting by combining with it the subjects of history painting. Although Corot's principal subject here was landscape, contemporaries readily identified the reclining woman in the foreground as Mary Magdalene. Her unbound hair and peasant costume, the deer in the background, and her solitude in the wilderness are traditional attributes of the saint.

In accord with academic training, Forest of Fontainebleau was created in the studio on the basis of sketches and studies that had been painted outdoors. The artist's humble attitude toward nature, unostentatious compositions, responsive paint handling, and conscientious clarity and freshness of vision distinguish his work from the formulaic landscapes of academic contemporaries. Corot declined to participate in the first impressionist exhibition, but his pervasive influence was manifest in works by pupils and followers including Pissarro, Morisot, Renoir, Monet, and Sisley.

Inscription

lower left: COROT

Marks and Labels

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Provenance

Louis-Alfred Binant [1823-1904], Paris, by 1855;[1] (his sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 20 April 1904, no. 18); purchased by (Bernheim-Jeune, Paris).[2] Léon Orosdi, Paris, sometime after 1913.[3] (Galerie André Weil, Paris);[4] (Etienne Bignou, Paris); sold 25 June 1934 to Chester Dale [1883-1962], New York; bequest 1963 to NGA.

Exhibition History

1834
Salon of 1834, Paris, no. 371, as Une fôret
1875
Exposition de l'oeuvre de Corot, Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris, 1875, no. 138, as Jeune femme lisant pres d'un cours d'eau entouré de rochers
1876
Exposition des deux tableaux importants par Corot et Gustave Courbet, M.A. Binant, Paris, 1876, no. 1, repro.
1889
Exposition centennale de l'art français, Exposition universelle, Paris, 1889, no. 173
1895
Exposition de centenaire de Corot, Palais Galliéra, Paris, 1895, no. 18
1908
Grafton Galleries, London, 1908
1913
Le Musée de Bâle, Basel, 1913, no. 60
1917
Französische Kunst des XIX. u. XIX. Jahrhunderts, Kunsthaus, Zurich, 1917, possibly no. 58
1979
French Romanticism, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1979, unnumbered checklist.
2008
In the Forest of Fontainebleau: Painters and Photographers from Corot to Monet, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 2008, no. 30, repro. (shown only in Washington).
2010
From Impressionism to Modernism: The Chester Dale Collection, National Gallery of Art, Washington, January 2010-January 2012, unnumbered catalogue, repro.

Bibliography

1875
Daliphard, E. "Exposition des oeuvres de Corot." L'Art 2 (1875): 158.
1890
Baschet, L. L'Art français. Paris, 1890: repro. opp. 98.
1905
Robaut, Alfred, and Etienne Moreau-Nélaton. L'Oeuvre de Corot. Catalogue raisonné et illustré. 5 vols. Paris, 1905: I:56, 64; II:90, no. 255, repro; IV:167.
1908
Meynel, E. Corot and His Friends. London, 1908: 58.
1909
Bouyer, Raymond. "Corot, peintre de figures." Revue de l'art ancien et moderne 26 (1909): 26, 295.
1926
Lafargue, M. Corot. New York, 1926: 47.
1930
Meier-Graefe, Julius. Corot. Berlin, 1930: 44-45.
1941
Catalogue of French Paintings from the Chester Dale Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1941: 1-2, pl. II.
1942
French Paintings from the Chester Dale Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1942: 21, repro.
1944
French Paintings from the Chester Dale Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1944: 21, repro.
1952
Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds., Great Paintings from the National Gallery of Art. New York, 1952: 150, color repro.
1953
Engel de Janosi, Carlette. "The Forest of Fontainebleau in Painting and Writing." Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 11 (1953): 391-394, 396, repro.
1953
French Paintings from the Chester Dale Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1953: 28, repro.
1957
Baud-Bovy, Daniel. Corot. Geneva, 1957: 200.
1960
Novotny, Fritz. Painting and Sculpture in Europe, 1780-1880. Baltimore, 1960: 106.
1963
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. New York, 1963 (reprinted 1964 in French, German, and Spanish): 323, repro.
1965
Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Paintings & Sculpture of the French School in the Chester Dale Collection, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1965: 36, repro.
1965
Roberts, Keith. Corot. London, 1965: 42, color pl. 13.
1965
Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1965: 31.
1968
European Paintings and Sculpture, Illustrations. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1968: 23, repro.
1968
Giampaolo Gandolfo et al. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Great Museums of the World. New York, 1968: 77, color repro. (Italian ed., Milan, 1968: 77, color repro.).
1972
Hours, Madeleine. Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot. New York, 1972: 23, fig. 16.
1974
Chu, Petra Ten Doesschate. French Realism and the Dutch Masters: The Influence of Dutch Seventeenth-Century Paintings on the Development of French Painting between 1830 and 1870. Utrecht, 1974: 21-23.
1975
European Paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1975: 78, repro.
1975
Toussaint, Helene. Hommage à Corot. Exh. cat. Orangerie des Tuileries, Paris, 1975: 38-39, 181.
1975
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1975: 436, no. 628, color repro.
1978
Phaiden Encyclopedia of Art and Artists. New York, 1978: 137.
1984
Hours, Madeleine. Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot. New York, 1984: 21, fig. 16.
1984
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 432, no. 616, color repro.
1985
European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 97, repro.
1989
Wissman, Fronia. Corot's Salon Paintings: Sources from French Classicism to Contemporary Theater Design. Ph.D. diss., 1989: 27-33.
1991
Clarke, Michael. Corot and the Art of Landscape. London, 1991: 49, 51, repro.
1992
National Gallery of Art, Washington. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 182, repro.
1994
Gale, Iain. Corot. London, 1994: 58, repro. 59.
1996
Pantazzi, Michael, Vincent Pomarède, and Gary Tinterow. Corot, 1796-1975. Exh. cat. Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Paris; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. New York, 1996: 27, n. 116; 88, n. 2; 111,n.7.
2000
Eitner, Lorenz. French Paintings of the Nineteenth Century, Part I: Before Impressionism. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 2000: 29-36, color repro.
2004
Hand, John Oliver. National Gallery of Art: Master Paintings from the Collection. Washington and New York, 2004: 356, no. 289, color repro.
2008
Corot Souvenirs et variations. Exh. cat., The National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo; Kobe City Museum. Tokyo, 2008: 256.

Technical Summary

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