Art historians have for over a century been writing on the impact and influence of Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (1796-1876). Leader of the Barbizon School, premiere artist of the Realist Movement, teacher to the young impressionists, and celebrated in his lifetime as one of the greatest painters of his generation. But unlike many of his successors, (Monet, Renoir, Degas, etc.) or his contemporaries, (Manet, Courbet.) Corot is not a house-hold name among the public, and does not usually adorn post cards or coffee cups in the gift shops of major museums, although his work is in almost all of them.
I think the reason for this is that Corot was the anti-artist artist. By the 1880s Victorian Academic painting was "Go-Big or Go-Home" (Gerome, Bouguereau, Alma Tadema, et al.), while the New Modernist art was Avante Garde, ( Impressionism, Symbolism, Art Nouveau, PreRaphaelite, Post-Impressionism, etc.) Corot wasn't any of these, he just made beautiful, little, unassuming paintings.
Whenever I visit a museum, there are invariably one or two Corots. These little canvases are like post cards. Many no bigger than your computer screen. Limited palette, no drama, no showmanship of craft or technique. Just flawless and zen-like composition of texture and form. They tend to get over-looked by the gawking tourists with guided head sets who want to see the Van-Gogh or the Monet, or the giant Seurat painting ("Look, Its just like in Ferris Bueller!" )
Next time you're in a museum, seek out the Corot. I promise that you will not be crowded or bothered. His little paintings will draw you in close and you can just stand as long as you like and quietly enjoy a master painter.
©2011 William O'Connor Studios