Masterpieces from the Philadelphia Museum of Art: Impressionism and Modern Art
Known as a landscape painter, Camille Corot exhibited only four figure paintings during his lifetime, yet after his death more than 140 figure studies were found in his studio. Familiar to only a handful of close friends and collectors, Corot's figure paintings astonished the public when they became more widely known around 1900. Younger generations of artists, including Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, and Pablo Picasso, admired and recognized them as some of the most progressive figural paintings of the nineteenth century. Edgar Degas once admitted that he thought Corot even better in his figures than his landscapes, and Mary Cassatt advised American collectors to purchase these rather than Corot's landscapes. Made after 1859, when Corot was troubled by gout and could no longer travel, the studies are remarkable for being studio compositions. Employing young Italian women who lived in his neighborhood as models and using costumes and props in his collection, Corot painted exquisite portraits set in romantic Italian landscapes. Gypsy Girl at a Fountain, with its gentle, creamy brushwork, is a sumptuously painted picture of a woman paused in a moment of reverie. Jennifer A. Thompson, from Masterpieces from the Philadelphia Museum of Art: Impressionism and Modern Art (2007), p. 34.