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Bridge to Narni

Painting, 1826, 34×48 cm

Description of the artwork «Bridge to Narni»

Stored in the Louvre "Bridge to Narni" - the first in time landscape masterpiece by Camille Corot and his first painting presented in the Salon. From it begin two important plot. The first is a very painful confrontation between the artist and the French Salon. The second and more global - early and unforeseen, like any false start, the emergence of ideas and techniques of impressionism long before its "official" appearance.

Narni, or Narnia, is the name of an ancient town in the Central Italian Umbria. Corot got there during a three-year (1825-1828) creative journey through Italy. At home, in France, he was taught the art of landscape artists Mishalonand Bertin, but it was an academic landscape (or, as it was also called, historical) with its traditional conventions and static monumentality. And Corot was looking for something completely different - a more lively, more immediate. His intuition pushed towards a landscape less speculative and closer to reality. In Italy, Corot wrote productively and a lot; he felt liberated. One of the results of this inspired work was the wonderful “Bridge to Narni”.

In fact, the traditional theme: the picturesque ruins, inscribed in the landscape. But Corot fills it with new, lively and festive, content. With amazing accuracy he manages to grab and convey the moment of an early sunny morning. A short and radiant moment, which is about to disappear: the sun rises higher, the light becomes brighter, the shadows appear sharper and the landscape changes, it becomes completely different. And the feeling of joy will be gone. And therefore for Koro, it is so important to capture the tested mood (later they will call him the creator of the "mood landscape"). Koro is not particularly interesting parts of the landscape - it is more important to convey the transparency of the air, diffused morning light, the contrast of the yellow sandy bottom and dark green hill, shades of color reflections in turbid water.

Of course, the critics and the Salon public accepted the first work of the Corot rather cool. And the second. And a lot of follow. And for Corot, by the nature of his character, alien to all revolutionism (he didn’t dare to give up trade for 7 years to do painting - the father did not allow), Salon’s official recognition was so important! And so unattainable. One day, he still got a second prize and moral: “Next time, monsieur, bring smaller fabrics”. At another time, his trees would be said to be written with a sponge, which Koro dipped in the dirt. And forever, the pictures of Koro will be hung in the darkest corners - where his valiers (the thinnest play of colors) cannot be discerned at all. In 1865, when Corot is already under 70, his paintings will come into vogue and receive recognition, but the Salon’s gold medal will still go to the academic Alexander Cabanel, depicting President Napoleon III. That same Napoleon III, who quipped about Corot's morning landscapes: “To understand this artist, you need to get up too early”.

Only after the fact, the critic will understand that “The Bridge in Narni” is the starting point for the most recent landscape art and a real masterpiece. One of the critics will rightly write about a breakthrough, which, without realizing it, made Koro with his picture: “Independently, having no program, purely intuitively Koro was transferred after fifty years of painting, moving from classicism to impersonalism”. A British art historian and writer Kenneth Clark will joke about the "Bridge in Narni" that in this picture Koro "Free as the most energetic Constable".

Author: Anna Yesterday
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About the artwork

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Landscape

Style of art: Romanticism

Technique: Oil

Materials: Paper

Date of creation: 1826

Size: 34×48 cm

Artwork in selections: 15 selections

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