As the final stage in his artistic education, Corot went to Italy in the fall of 1825. During his nearly three-year-long stay, he toured the countryside so richly evocative of Latin literary classics, as well as the old master landscape paintings by Nicolas Poussin and Claude Lorrain that formed the fountainhead of the French tradition. Corot painted his Italian landscape studies as preliminaries for more traditional large landscapes with figures composed in the studio. But many modern viewers prefer Corot’s oil sketches to the less spontaneous studio works developed from them. Figures, even secondary ones, are rare in these studies, with the implication that Corot recorded nature for its own sake rather than to provide background décor to some historical or literary narrative.
Working out-of-doors, Corot made around 150 oil studies in Italy. Taken as a group, these constitute one of the earliest important manifestations of modern-art values, including a meteorological (rather than poetic) concern for light, a preference for unexpected points of view with a disregard for symmetry in composition, and a willingness to leave brushmarks visible for their own inherent beauty. Corot visited Olevano, about twenty-five miles east of Rome, toward the end of his Italian sojourn, in April 1827 and again during the summer of the same year.
Corot himself did not intend his Italian studies for public exhibition and left most of them unsigned. The red seal at the lower-right corner of the Kimbell painting, which reads Vente Corot (Corot Sale), was provided for the auction of the contents of the artist’s studio after his death in 1875.
(Corot sale, Deuxième partie, Paris, 31 May-4 June 1875, no. 280);
purchased by Martin for Fr. 300.
Armand-François-Paul des Frisches, comte Doria [14 April 1824-7 May 1896], Paris;
(Armand Doria sale, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, 4/5 May 1899, no. 74);
purchased by Dr. Georges Viau [1855-1939] for Fr. 1,820;
(Georges Viau sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 11 December 1942, salle 9, no. 79, not sold);
(Georges Viau sale, Galerie Charpentier, Paris, 22 June 1948, no. 1);
purchased by Alfred Daber [active 1920-1970].
Dr. C. Theuveny, Paris, by 1966, possibly by 1955.
Private collection, Basel, Switzerland, by 1970;
purchased from (Wildenstein & Co., New York) with the assistance of a gift from Colonel C. Michael Paul by Kimbell Art Foundation, Fort Worth, 1980.