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Paris, 1796– Ville d’Avray, France, 1875
Corot was born in Paris to a wealthy family of cloth merchants. He followed his father into the family business, but studied painting at a school at night. When his father bought a second home in Ville d’Avray, Corot turned part of it into his studio and painted there while on holiday. At the age of 26, he decided to become a professional painter. He studied landscape painting in the manner of the Academic school, first with Achille Etna Michallon and then with Jean-Victor Bertin, before traveling to Italy, where he spent three years. In the luxuriant light of Italy, he applied himself with a passion. The color sense and mastery of the expression of light he achieved were highly regarded. He later revisited Italy twice. He also traveled widely in France, painting other landscapes as well as those of Ville d’Avray and Fontainebleau. His unwavering focus on natural detail and sharp contrasts between light and shadow had a strong influence on the Impressionists and later generations of artists. In old age he painted landscapes in which realism is combined with lyrical and imaginary feeling. He also produced numerous masterworks of figure painting and portraiture.
1835-40 Oil on canvas