COROT, Jean-Baptiste Camille (1796-1845)
Paris: Published by A. Cadart et Luquet, 79, rue de Richelieu, 1863. Etching. Printed on watermarked laid paper. First state before letters. Full sheet in excellent condition. Image size: 11 1/2 x 8 5/8 inches. Sheet size: 20 3/4 x 13 3/4 inches.
This is a rich impression of the rare first state of Corot's famous landscape etching, "Souvenir d'Italia."
Jean Baptiste Camille Corot was a founding figure in the Barbizon school, and his transient atmospheric landscapes are often considered precursors of impressionism. Born in Paris, Corot studied under the neoclassical masters Michallon and Bertin, but he advocated a more naturalistic painting technique and pioneered the practice of painting in the open air. Corot was also an innovative printmaker who mastered etching, lithography and glass printing. In 1825 he made the first of three trips to Italy, where he was greatly influenced by both the art that he viewed and the landscape he traveled through. It was not until the age of fifty that Corot learned to etch, and it was from his early Italian sketches that the majority of his fine etchings derive.
This remarkable early impression is a superlative example of Corot's distinctive sketch-like engraving style. Corot's use of soft wispy outline and hazy diffused light is characteristic of his later style, which seems to perfectly capture the mood of a landscape. Corot was one of the most important French printmakers of the nineteenth century, and this haunting print is one of the best examples of his beautiful etched landscapes. This is a rich dark impression of the rare first state, printed before letters, and is a true work of art for any serious print collector. It was included in one of the first collections of the Society de Aqua-Fortistes publications by Cadart and is extremely rare in this early state.
Between 1862 and 1866 the Societe des Aqua-Fortistes produced a five-volume collection of artists' etchings entitled "Euax-Fortes Modernes." Printed on laid paper made especially for the series, this outstanding collection is one of the seminal publications to spring out of the etching revival in France. The Societe des Aqua-Fortistes was the French equivalent of the Etching Club in England and similarly it aimed to produce a collection of high quality etchings by the leading artists of the period. Like the Etching Club, the Societe des Aqua-Fortistes sought to raise the prestige of the medium from a reproductive technique to a fine art. Although the etching revival began somewhat earlier in England, the French movement exerted a far greater influence on the medium, and included a wider range of prominent artists. The Barbizon painters were among the earliest French artists to participate in the etching revival, and their superb prints helped raise the medium to new heights of genius. This unique publication, which included works by Manet, Corot, and Delacroix, is an outstanding example of fine art printing at its best.
Beraldi, Les Gravures du XIXe Siecle, Guide de l'Amateur d'Estampes Modernes, vol. V, p. 50, no. 5, i/iv; Benezit, Dictionnaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs.7; Delteil, Le Peintre-Gravure Illustre , vol. V, no. 5, i/iv; Laran, I nventaire du Fonds Francais après 1800 , vol. 5, p. 186, no. 5.