Saturday, August 17, 2013

Palette in Her Hand

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot  "Young Woman Artist with Palette in her Hand"
1800's   Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, Sweden

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (1796-1875) was a french painter born in Paris. His parents were successful and creative businesspeople.  In fact, his mother was a milliner whose hats became so hugely popular that his father gave up his own profession to manage the business side of the millinery shop. Corot was initially apprenticed to a draper and the years spent handling fine cloth and studying the gradations of dye lots stood him in good stead in his art career. It is related that later in life Corot was absolutely delighted to find a Parisian draper's shop was purveying fabric in a color they had named "gris-Corot" or Corot's gray! 

He was an extremely prolific artist, with his catalogue raisonne listing upwards of 2,500 paintings.  Nonetheless his popularity was such that even with those numbers there were simply not enough Corots to meet the demand, and he is one of the most counterfeited artists in history. A well known art quip is that "Corot painted three thousand canvases, ten thousand of which have been sold in America."  (René Huyghe)

Although Corot never married he is said to have been a big appreciator of female beauty. He painted several images with women posing in various attitudes front of his easel, but I believe this may be the only one where the model actually holds a palette and brushes. 

This image was very generously shared with me by the Nationalmuseum (National Museum of Fine Arts) of Sweden.


Alexandra Tyng said...

Thank you for this interesting post! Is this one of the paintings that is without doubt a Corot? I imagine the usual paintings of women in "various attitudes" might have been safer to imitate.

Nancy Bea Miller said...

Hi Alex, I corresponded with a curator at the Nationalmuseum and they feel certain this is an authentic Corot. Yes, this piece has a certain oddity to it, it is very unlike the other Corot "girls in front of the easel" pieces, and I suspect this is in its favor...I don't think a forger would have visually gone out on a limb like this. Corot was known to occasionally experiment or riff on a previous theme in a new way...he had a playful aesthetic energy. On the other hand, C had so many people hanging around in his studio due to his generous and sociable personality that who knows, maybe it could have been painted by one of his students or friends and a false signature added at some later date, However, I myself am happy to take the Nationalmuseum's expert word for it.