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Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot was born in Paris in 1796, the son of a cloth merchant and a Swiss milliner. After an education at the Lycee in Rouen, he worked in a draper's shop. His talent for drawing and painting and an allowance from his father enabled him to become a pupil of Achille Michallon and later of Victor Berlin, both landscape painters in the classical tradition. He completed his studies in Italy and sent landscapes painted there to the Salon in 1827.


Truthfulness to nature and the precise observation of tonal values ensured the admiration on which his fame rests. He also painted mythological and religious subjects, nudes and nymphs in landscape settings, and portraits, which show the influence of Monet and Courbet, his younger contemporaries. He visited Italy on two more occasions, in 1834 and 1843, painting in Rome, Florence, and Venice; he also visited the Swiss Lakes.


From spring to autumn, he lived with his parents at Vilte d'Avray. He worked in the open in the mornings and evenings, capturing the light and atmosphere of his favorite times of day- He traveled widely in Brittany, Normandy, Burgundy and wherever he had painter friends with whom he could stay; in winter he worked in his studio in Paris composing canvases from the many sketches he had made during the summer.


He was an extremely kind and generous man much loved by his fellow artists, whom he was always ready to help with money and advice. He was awarded numerous medals and the Legion d'honneur in 1846. Acknowledged as the world's foremost landscape painter, fame did not spoil the simplicity of his character- "An angel who smokes a pipe", as Degas once described him.


Corot’s late-period lyrical landscapes with figures and trees enveloped in diaphanous gray-green mists became extremely popular and were much reproduced.

1796 – 1875

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