17 July 1796; Paris, France
22 February 1875; Paris, France
A pivotal figure in landscape painting, Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot was an influential and prolific artist, producing over 3,000 works during his lifetime, and inspiring countless numbers of forgeries and copies. Although he was not especially interested or gifted in art at a young age, he decided to make the professional switch from businessman to artist at the age of 26, and in 1821, immediately began with the study of landscapes. He focused on two types of landscapes, historical landscapes, containing ancient and mythological creatures, and realistic landscapes, mostly of Northern Europe, with faithful renditions of flora and fauna, often mixing the two genres together.
In his travels through Italy to study Renaissance paintings, he was entranced by the light of the countryside, which was to influence his color palette throughout his paintings. Although he was also entranced by the Italian women, he wrote that his goal in life was to be committed to painting, and thus he had no time for marriage.
Throughout the 1840’s his reputation grew as a great painter, and by 1848 he was selected as a jury member of the Paris Salon. In 1867, he was promoted to an officer of the Salon. In his later life, Corot was very financially successful, and he shared his wealth with all those around him. In 1871, he donated 2,000 francs to the Poor of Paris, and a year later he bought a house for his fellow artist Honore Daumier, who by then was blind and destitute. He also donated 10,000 francs to the widow of another fellow artist, Jean-Francois Millet, to help her support her children. In the year before his death at age 78, his friends and students, feeling that he was underappreciated and professionally neglected, presented him with a gold medal.