1835-40 Oil on canvas
As a network of railroads was built in France, star ting the 1830s, painters could take brief trips to distant places. Corot, a landscape painter, traveled throughout France, taking their varied sights as his subject. In spring and summer, he sketched out of doors, later creating paintings based on his sketches at his atelier in fall and winter.
Corot’s father had purchased a country house in the small town of Ville d’Avray, about twelve kilometers west of Paris, when the area had few houses and a wealth of natural beauty. Corot made part of the main house the atelier where he painted the area’s beautiful scenery throughout his career. He frequently visited the area and painted there between painting excursions to other parts of the country, particularly after his second trip to Italy, in 1834.
This painting dates from that period. It makes effective use of the contrast of light and dark and is painted painstakingly down to the smallest details. The dark foreground and bright background generate a sense of depth. The dark green woods and blue sky spread across the canvas; light filtered through the trees falls on the path. Between the rhythmically arranged trees on the left, we glimpse the surface of a lake. The brown cow and the woman standing in the middle of the path strengthen this work’s lyrical ambiance.