Forest of Fontainebleau

1846
Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (French, 1796–1875)


Dimensions

90.2 x 128.8 cm (35 1/2 x 50 3/4 in.)

Accession Number

90.199

Medium or Technique

Oil on canvas

Not On View

Collections

Europe

Classifications

Paintings

Corot based this painting on sketches made in the Forest of Fontainebleau, just south of Paris, where he had worked since the 1820s. The artist reworked his sketches into a carefully structured composition, with the horizontals of foreground and background balanced by the verticals of trees, and the cows positioned to mark recession into space. Nevertheless, the acceptance of this work for the Salon of 1846 was a landmark event in the history of French landscape painting, for it depicts an ordinary, easily recognized local site without the “justification” of a noble human subject.

Inscription

Lower left: COROT

Provenance

February 5-6, 1872, contributed by the artist to the Auguste Anastasi sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, lot 26 [see note 1], sold for fr. 4000 to Alfred Robaut (b. 1830 - d. 1909), Paris, who owned it until at least 1878 [see note 2]. March 2, 1881, M. Guébin sale, Hotel Drouot, Paris, lot 18, sold for fr. 4700 to Louis Latouche (b. 1829 - d. 1884), Paris; sold by Latouche to Ferdinand Barbédienne (b. 1810 - d. 1892), Paris [see note 3]; sold by Barbédienne to Thomas Robinson for Seth Morton Vose (b. 1831 - d. 1910) [see note 4]; by 1884, sold by Vose to Beriah Wall, Providence, RI [see note 5]; March 30 - April 1, 1886, Wall sale, American Art Galleries, New York, lot 263, to Seth Morton Vose for Susan Cornelia Clarke (Mrs. Samuel Dennis) Warren (b. 1825 - d. 1901), Boston; 1890, gift of Mrs. Samuel Dennis Warren to the MFA. (Accession Date: December 2, 1890)

NOTES:
[1] Corot exhibited this painting at the Salon of 1846 and kept it in his possession until 1872. Several artists contributed works of art to this auction to raise money for the painter Auguste Anastasi (b. 1820 - d. 1889), who had become blind.

[2] According to Alfred Robaut, "L'oeuvre de Corot, catalogue raisonné et illustré" (Paris, 1905), cat. no. 502, who states that Corot signed it after he purchased it. Robaut lent the painting to Durand-Ruel in 1878.

[3] According to Achille Oudinot, in the "Catalogue of the Private Collections of Modern Paintings belonging to Mr. Beriah Wall and John A. Brown," American Art Galleries, March 30 - April 1, 1886, p. 93, the painting "hung in Corot's studio, and he would not sell it, but when Mr. Anastasi became blind, he made a gift of it to the fund raised to support him. The amateur who bought it (Latouche) sold it to Barbedienne, the picture dealer... Mr. Robinson imported it from him and sold it to Mr. Beriah Wall."

[4] Robert C. Vose wrote to Charles Cunningham of the MFA (November 9, 1937) that "Father bought the picture from Barbedienne.... The transaction was negotiated by Thomas Robinson...who for many years was my Father's purchasing agent in Europe."

[5] It was in his possession by 1884; see the "Illustrated Catalogue of the Art Collection of Beriah Wall, Providence, R. I." (Providence, 1884), cat. no. 27.

Credit Line

Gift of Mrs. Samuel Dennis Warren