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Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot

1796 – 1875

Souvenir of Tuscany by Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot

Souvenir of Tuscany   c.1845 and 1865

  Original etching.
With the artist’s name in the plate.
Ref: Melot 1 iv/v
S 159 x 219 mm; P 134 x 182 mm; I 122 x 179 mm
Original J.B. Corot etching.

Very good impression, from the edition of about 750 impressions printed for the Gazette des Beaux-Arts in the issue of April 1st, 1875, to accompany the obituary article of Corot by Louis Gonse, director of the review; with the full lettering including the French title “Souvenir de Toscane”. This impression shows the plate in its completed state, as finished by Corot himself and as first published, but is prior to the final printing for Roger Marx in 1903.

“This etching was executed in two stages, twenty years apart, according to Bracquemond, who claimed to have found the varnished and drawn but unbitten plate ‘in a box of nails’ in Corot's home in 1865 and thereupon proposed to etch and print it for the aged master. The first, very summary drawing must have been done around 1845, though its eventual purpose is not known.” (M. Melot, Graphic Art of the Pre-Impressionists, 1980 edition, p.257). Corot made considerable changes to the composition after Félix Bracquemond had printed the only three proofs in the first state of the plate. Corot himself then performed the definitive reworking to create the second state of the plate with the image completed but before lettering. In the third state the corners of the plate were rounded, but it remained without lettering, In this fourth state, the lettering was added and it was in this form that the plate was first published. Melot gives a fifth state in which the plate was re-printed in 1903 without discussing alterations.

Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot was one of the greatest formative influences on landscape painting in nineteenth century French art. Corot’s innovative style and practise of painting directly from nature, in the open air, introduced a new and sensitive treatment of light, form, and distance, interpreted in terms of tonal values. It was this spontaneous and sensitive approach to the depiction of light and landscape which was to have a profound effect on the Barbizon School of painters and subsequently upon the Impressionists.

Corot saw etching as a natural extension of pencil drawing and this is particularly apparent in his vigorous line work throughout this composition. Souvenir of Tuscany demonstrates perfectly the exceptional freedom of handling which Corot developed in his etchings in order to capture the freshness and spontaneity which he could achieve through the rapid manner of his pencil drawings. The first of his drawings on an etching plate, this beautifully animated landscape reveals Corot’s inspired genius as a painter-etcher.

On cream laid paper, with margins. Good original condition.