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One of the most important painters of the Barbizon school, Corot took a lively interest in the activities and experiements of the Impressionists, and gave advice to Pissarro and Morisot among others. He traveled widely thoughout France and Italy, and his exact study of landscape had a strong impact on the Impressionists, especially Pissarro and Sisley, while Monet derived invaluable inspiration from his mastery of light.

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot was a renowned French painter - especially of landscapes, who worked in romantic and realistic styles and was a forerunner of impressionistic style.

Corot was born in Paris on July 16, 1796, the son of a draper, who reluctantly allowed him to study painting. From the academic landscape painter Victor Bertin he learned classical principles of composition, which shaped the calm, well-structured landscapes he painted from 1825 to 1828 in Italy. Examples are The Forum (1826) and the Bridge at Nantes (1827), both of which are in the Louvre, Paris.

From 1828 until his death, Corot lived in Paris. During the warm months he traveled throughout Europe, painting small oil sketches that, like those of his friends in the Barbizon School of artists, are among the first French landscapes to be painted outdoors. The sketches are marked by careful structure and the sense of natural light. He worked during winter months in his studio, producing large salon pieces with biblical or historical subjects. By 1845, after receiving critical acclaim, Corot began to sell his work.

His landscapes thereafter became imaginary creations bathed in a filmy romantic atmosphere achieved by silvery tones and soft brushstrokes. Examples of this protoimpressionistic style, for which he became famous, are versions of Ville d'Avray and Memory of Mortefontaine (1864, Musée du Louvre). Although he tended to repeat his success in this vein to meet popular demand, he also painted such outstanding works as The Belfry at Douai (1871, Musée du Louvre) in his earlier classical style; he also painted a number of portraits and figure studies. He was generous to his friends and pupils with both time and money, earning the title père (“father”) Corot. He died in Paris on February 22, 1875.

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