Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (1796 - 1875), c. 1850
oil on paper on canvas,
29 cm x 43 cm
The Mesdag Collection, The Hague
Corot here painted an unremarkable rock mass and brushwood with deft strokes of the brush. It is a fine example of the new approach to landscape painting that gained ground in the course of the 19th century.
Corot wanted to render nature as it appeared at a given moment of the day. This was a radical departure from his predecessors, who depicted idealized and highly refined landscapes. With his innovative notions he unleashed a veritable artistic revolution in painting.
In the beginning Corot was sharply criticized. But the celebrated French writer and critic Charles Baudelaire came to his defence. He argued, ‘... that in general what is “completed” is not “finished” and that a thing “finished” in detail may well lack the unity of a “completed” thing ... from all of which it follows that M. Corot paints like the great masters.’