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View of the Castle of Pierrefonds

Painting, 1860, 47×38 cm
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Description of the artwork «View of the Castle of Pierrefonds»

When Gustave Courbet met Camille Corot, he confessed, “ I am not the master like you, Mr. Corot. I have to paint what I see.” It was a sincere compliment. Courbet became a key person of French realism, last but not least due to his poor imagination; he simply had no choice. Realist Corot on the contrary had rich imagination. He had never lost his chance to use it. As the years went by, he progressively avoided the precise copying approaching poetical, idealized and personal landscape.

Mysterious forest twilight, sleeping waters besotted by fogs, faint silver of leaves cutting the muslin of the morning light; no doubt, the nature was lucky with such a painter. Sprucing up the nature Corot had never excessively used beauty care; his paints were discreet and his emotions were quiet and vague like elusive dream or sounds of music in the next room. Corot did not remark any contradiction between sentimental approach and what is called the real life. “Reality is a part of art. Feelings are parts of reality”, the artist said.

The View of the Castle of Pierrefonds belongs to the period of mature lyrical landscapes in Corot’s oeuvre.
The famous castle situated on the southeast edge of the Forest of Compiègne was the ideal place for landscape painting for the artist. Partially destroyed in the XVII century by the order of Cardinal Richelieu, the Castle of Pierrefonds was somewhat gloomy picturesque ruins at Corot’s time. At the same time, it had not lost its heroic and romantic glory and it was still famous. In 1845 Alexander Dumas published his novel Twenty Years After with his character Porthos, Baron du Vallon de Bracieux de Pierrefonds, a favorite of the nation, who lived in the Castle according to the author. About the same time when Corot was working on his painting, Napoleon III decided to make the Castle of Pierrefonds his residence and ordered to start restoration; the former greatness returned to the Castle.

A cold grey silhouette of the Château de Pierrefonds breaks the skyline contrasting with the melancholy of a pale spring morning. Figures covered with coats (too old fashioned for the middle of the XIX century) are depicted in scanty rays of the sun in the foreground. Dense curtain of leaves hides them from curious glances. Nobody could see them from the Castle. Who are those two persons? Were they peers of Corot or visitors from historic past? Maybe they are guardians working around the outskirts who stopped for exchanging the code words. They could be coup plotters or Dumas’s characters. We are left to wonder. Nobody but Camille Corot could depict serenity of the nature in his canvas so masterfully. Like nobody else, the artist could add to the most peaceful landscape something more; intrigue, mystery, feeling of Real Adventure.

Author: Andrew Zimoglyadov
from 1450 rub
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About the artwork

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Landscape

Style of art: Romanticism

Technique: Oil

Materials: Wood, Paper

Date of creation: 1860

Size: 47×38 cm

Artwork in selections: 11 selections

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