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Camille Corot

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Goatherd of Terni, c. 1871

About the Artwork

Following a tradition among French landscape painters, Corot traveled to Italy in 1825 to study Italian Renaissance painting, but the greatest impact of this and subsequent trips was his discovery of the Italian countryside. He spent hours working outdoors, making landscape sketches and absorbing the atmosphere and light that would suffuse nearly all of his subsequent work. After 1843, Corot worked exclusively in his native France, drawing on his open-air studies and memories of Italy to create imaginative landscapes that evoke a mood rather than a specific view. Peopled with shepherds, dancing nymphs, and bathers, these paintings have a timeless, lyrical quality. Goatherd of Terni, with its sketchiness and loose brushwork, is a hazy recollection of a ravine landscape north of Rome. A master of tonal relationships, Corot worked with a limited palette of muddy colors to suggest the depth and shadows of the ravine, while dabs of yellow and orange paint floating on the surface convey the effects of the rising sun. Although Corot did not approve of Impressionist painting, his poetic landscapes and free paint handling caused the next generation of painters to regard him as a father figure. Jennifer A. Thompson, from Masterpieces from the Philadelphia Museum of Art: Impressionism and Modern Art (2007), p. 38

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