Today is the last day to see these ladies (and one man) before they leave the National Gallery of Art and go their separate ways after appearing together for the first time in more than 100 years in a show, Corot: Women.
Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, The Lady in Blue, 1874, oil on canvas, Musée du Louvre, Paris, Département des peintures.This view of the woman's back gives one pause to question the meaning. She seems another unhappy soul with muscular arms planted on the piano as if to sigh: "I am tired of this party and want to leave." It is unusual that the artist left her arms bare.
You walk through the galleries and almost feel like you are peering or intruding upon the models' innermost thoughts as they brood, study, read, and welcome no one. Happiness is absent, but what would a painting be without conflict or turmoil? They are like books with climax, the peak of interest.
The models look askance, in that direction, this way, down, seldom at the viewer. One has been bitten by a viper. In another, a voyeur gets his comeuppance when his hounds chase and kill him.
Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Agostina, 1866, oil on canvas, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Chester Dale Collection. One of Mr. Dale's favorites which hung in the Dales' New York apartment. The Dales' gifts to the National Gallery of Art form the basis of the Gallery's impressionist and post-impressionist collections, according to the catalogue.
Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot,Young Woman in a Pink Skirt, c. 1845–1850, oil on canvas, Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts. Her blouse hangs suggestively low. Might she be a girl of the street?
Although Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (1796-1875) was chiefly known for his landscapes, this exhibition is a study in portraiture.
Many of the women are dressed in colorful costumes, an appreciation of apparel Corot gained from helping his mother in her dress shop and observing his father's work as a draper. Corot was a textile apprentice until age 26 when he persuaded his parents to let him study art full time. He never married, he said, because he only wanted to concentrate on his art.
Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Wounded Eurydice, c. 1868–1870, oil on canvas, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Bequest of Mrs. Egil Boeckmann. Before she dies from a viper's bit, Eurydice rubs her foot. Her husband, Orpheus, chases her to the underworld, but disobeys an order and looks back, to lose Eurydice forever.
Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Saint Sebastien, c. 1850-1869, oil on canvas. Musee des beaux- arts de Lyon. Perhaps for balance, the exhibition includes a single male "nude." He is nude? That is the description in the "nudity" gallery of the Corot show.
Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Diana and Actaeon (Diana Surprised in Her Bath), 1836, oil on canvas. Lent by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Robert Lehman Collection.This is based on Ovid's Metamorphoses when Actaeon stumbles upon Diana bathing and she turns him into a stag who is killed by his own hounds. (Take that, you voyeur!) A close-up from Diana and Actaeon (Diana Surprised in Her Bath).
Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Bacchante with a Panther, 1860, reworked c. 1865–1870, oil on canvas. Collection of Shelburne Museum, Anonymous gift in memory of Harry Payne Bingham.. Is this weird or what? Even the National Gallery of Art cannot explain it. A nude woman shows a dead bird to a child on a leopard (?) The label says it looks like a mythological study, however, no one can identify the study, if it is. The painting almost looks like two separate works.
Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Springtime of Life, 1871, oil on canvas. Minneapolis Institute of Art, Bequest of Mrs. Erasmus C. Lindley in memory of her father, James J. Hill. Springtime reminds me of the poem by Robert Herrick (1591-1674):
Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, Old Time is still a-flying; And this same flower that smiles today Tomorrow will be dying. The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun, The higher he’s a-getting, The sooner will his race be run, And nearer he’s to setting. That age is best which is the first, When youth and blood are warmer; But being spent, the worse, and worst Times still succeed the former. Then be not coy, but use your time, And while ye may, go marry; For having lost but once your prime, You may forever tarry.
Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, c. 1850 by Victor Laisné or Lainé (1830-1911),
() Histoire des artistes vivants, français et étrangers, peintres, sculpteurs, architectes, graveurs, photographes : études d'après nature, Paris: E. Blanchard, pp. 27 Retrieved on /Wikimedia Commons
When: Today at the National Gallery of Art, open 10 a.m.- 5 p.m.
Where: The main floor of the West Building between Third and Ninth streets at Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. On the Mall.
Admission charge: It's always free at the National Gallery of Art.
Metro stations for the National Gallery of Art:
Smithsonian, Federal Triangle, Navy Memorial-Archives or L'Enfant Plaza
For more information: 202-737-4215