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Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot

L'île heureuse


Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot
Paris 1796 – Ville-d'Avray 1875


L'île heureuse


About 1865-1868


Oil on canvas


188 x 142.5 cm


Gift of the family of Sir George A. Drummond in memory of Arthur Lennox Drummond and Captain Guy Melfort Drummond, inv. 1919.30


Western Art

This remarkable painting attests to the friendship of two artist companions. Fellow combatants in the battle against the Beaux-Arts academic system and administration, these two landscape painters were precursors of Impressionism: Daubigny and, as he called his friend, “Le Père Corot.” At Corot’s suggestion, Daubigny moved to Auvers-sur-Oise, near Paris, not far from Daumier’s studio. They undertook to decorate the new lodgings: L’île heureuse is the finest of the five panels Corot executed for his vestibule.

If Daubigny veered from Realism to colourful Impressionism in his landscape-portraits, Corot proceeded more from the classical spirit of seventeenth-century French landscape masters Claude and Poussin in the landscapes of his maturity, which he called his paysages-souvenirs. This is one of the painter’s infinite variations on the theme of a placid lake in dawn mist under a flurry of foliage, the scene disturbed only by sketchily rendered peasant figures. Is this the Italy of Lake Albano? Or the French countryside around Ville-d’Avray? Regardless, the atmosphere is as always that of a reconstituted dream, in which the painter-poet favours sensation over description, tone over colour.

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