Studio: international art — 60.1914

Page: 210
DOI issue: DOI article: DOI Page: Citation link:
License: Free access  - all rights reserved Use / Order
1 cm
Reminiscences of Corot

admiration and enthusiasm for Corot. My father
presented me as one of his sons, and Corot, with
his customary kindness and indulgence, asked what I
was doing, and tried to draw out my particular
tastes. While talking and puffing away at his pipe
he kept throwing from time to time a glance at his
study. Suddenly he rushed forward to his palette
and snatched up his brushes, crying, “Ah! the
brigand ! the scoundrel! he shan’t escape me a
second time. I’ve got him ! ” And, seating him-
self quickly before his easel, he squeezed out a
tube of white and started to model on his canvas a
big white sunlit cloud that was just appearing
above the mass of green and foliage that formed
part of his picture. “ We are just like crafty fisher-
men,” he added as he made rapid strokes with the
brush, “ we have to seize the propitious moment to
make the fish fall into our net—for we too, we have
nets and a mesh in which to snare him as he goes
by.” Some moments later the cloud was fixed
upon the canvas, imparting an extraordinary life and
charm to his picture. “Now that we are at rest
again, having worked well,” he said, “we can go on
with the old pipe and talk a bit.” He rose and
regarded his work with satisfaction, so much so
that he swung round merrily and danced about
singing the while the air from the Muette de

pecheur, parle bas,

Le roi des mers ne t’echappera pas !

This fine old man, so gay and so alert, was then
seventy-two years old. That year the spring re-
mained very cold ; the foliage was very backward
and one had not the usual
sensation of having left
winter behind. Neverthe-
less, despite the rigour of
the season, Corot insisted
upon finishing his picture.

He spent in all eight morn-
ings at it, shivering some-
times with numbed fingers,
but forgetful of everything
save his work. All that we
could prevail upon him to
do to mitigate the discom-
forts of the weather, was to
put his feet upon some
boards so as to avoid the
dampness of the ground.

He was so happy to find
himself once more face to
face with nature, after
passing the winter months

indoors in the studio, that he would listen to no
counsels of prudence and reason.

He left us after about ten days, having during
that time completed two important pictures, which
he carried very far, made sketches and projects for
drawings of all kinds, and prepared several com-
positions which he proposed to complete the
following winter in his studio; a considerable
quantity of work, all of which he executed with
gaiety, exuberance of spirits and enthusiasm.

Some years later, in the spring of 1873, Corot came
back to Brunoy and was again unfortunate in the
weather, for it rained during the greater part of his
visit. His activity, however, was as great as ever.
When unable to paint out of doors, under the
shelter of our umbrellas held over his canvas, a
large one, as a protective shield, in the manner of
the “tortoise” of the ancient Romans, he sketched
in certain compositions under cover in the house.
One never saw him without either his brushes or a
piece of charcoal in his hand. When evening came
one would have expected him to feel tired by work
so sustained, but he never seemed in the least
fatigued. His gaiety and his spirits seemed inex-
haustible. After the evening meal he would often
ask for some paper, no matter of what kind, white
or coloured, or even packing paper if no other was
forthcoming, then, taking charcoal or pencil and
chatting and telling stories all the time, he would
abandon himself to the pleasures of improvisation,
creating, as it were by enchantment, Elysian land-
scapes of amazing fantasy which he delighted to
present to those gathered around him. Nothing


2 10
loading ...