Sunday, 13 May 2012


“Some are kissing mothers and some are scolding mothers, but it is love just the same, and most mothers kiss and scold together.” - Pearl S. Buck
Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers! 
An Art Sunday inspired by this international day of celebration of motherhood.

When he was born to a family of wealthy cloth merchants on 16th July, 1796, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot seemed destined for a life in business. Even though he started out in the family’s business, his talent and inclination were sufficient to convince his parents to allow him to study art. Abandoning his commercial career at the age of 26, Corot began to study under the academic landscape painter Victor Bertin, learning classical composition both in the studio and in his travels to Italy, the Netherlands and England. Because of his family’s wealth, Corot was able to paint without the necessity of selling his work.

Corot’s gift for landscape was immediately apparent, and by 1845 he was critically acclaimed and selling his work regularly. His close alignment with nature, while not idealising the concept of the happy yeoman that his contemporary Millet presented, nor the romantic view of nature as an antidote to increased urbanisation and industrialisation of the age proposed by Rousseau, brought him into the realm of the Barbizon school.

Today, Corot is most appreciated for very different kinds of landscape: For plein air sketches, never destined to be exhibited themselves but painted outdoors in preparation for studio pictures, and for lyrical views of the countryside he called souvenirs. The soft, silvery souvenirs recapture a poetic response to nature. Their fresh touch and light atmosphere are informed by outdoor studies and combined with a strong sense of form retained from classical French landscapes of the seventeenth century. Corot's work was an important influence on younger Impressionist painters.  Well-loved by his friends, peers and pupils, Corot was a generous and noble soul. He gave unstintingly of both time and money, thus earning the nickname “Père Corot”. Camille Corot was deeply mourned when he died in Paris on 22 February, 1875.

This painting “Mother and Child on the Beach” painted in 1860 is now exhibited in the Philadelphia Museum of Art (United States). The painting treats the subject with a straight-forward and earnest simplicity, yet there is a monumental air to it also, foreshadowing perhaps Picasso’s early work. The mother tenderly looks after her baby on the beach, with the activity in the background suggesting labour more than fun. The mother’s earth-coloured dress contrasts with the background and the dress of the baby, both in shades of steel-blue and gray. This is a tender mother, but also one who works as well as looking after her child. Corot is making a social statement as well as observing the intimate relationship of motherhood.

1 comment:

  1. Corot is a significant painter, often overshadowed by the great names of impressionism.