Avignon from the West

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Further reading

The Athenaeum, 15 February 1896, p. 223

A. Robaut, L’Oeuvre de Corot. Catalogue raisonné et illustré précédé de l’Histoire de Corot et de ses oeuvres par Étienne Moreau-Nélaton, ornée de dessins et croquis originaux du maître,  4 vols, Paris 1905,  II,  p. 116, no. 328

Sir C. Phillips, ‘National Gallery II - Sir Hugh Lane’s Pictures’, Daily Telegraph, 10 February 1917, p. 7

T. Martin Wood, ‘Modern French Pictures at the National Gallery’, The Studio, November 1917, pp. 53–9 (54)

J. Meier-Graefe, Corot, Berlin 1930, p. 48 and plate XXII; T. Bodkin, Sir Hugh Lane and his Pictures,  Dublin 1932, plate XVIII, 1956 edn, plate XIX

L. Venturi, Peintres Modernes: Goya, Constable, David, Ingres, Delacroix, Corot, Daumier, Courbet, Paris 1941, pp. 146–7

R. Escholier, La Peinture Française. XIXe Siècle, Paris 1943, II, pp. 148–9

Martin Davies (revised by Cecil Gould), National Gallery Catalogues. French School: Early 19th Century, Impressionists, Post-Impressionists etc, London 1970, pp. 30–2

M-P. Fouchet, Corot, Paris 1975, p. 65; J. Leymarie, Corot, Geneva 1979, pp. 60–1

J. Selz, La Vie et l’Oeuvre de Camille Corot, Paris 1988, p. 106

V. Pomarède, M. Pantazzi and G. Tinterow, Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot (1796–1875), exh. cat.,  Paris/ Ottawa/New York, 1996–7, no. 67

R. White, J. Pilc and J. Kirby, ‘Analyses of Paint Media’, National Gallery Technical Bulletin, 19, 1998, pp. 79–94 (90)

A. Roy, ‘Barbizon Painters: Tradition and Innovation in Artists’ Materials’, Barbizon. Malerei der Natur – Natur der Malerei,  eds A. Burmester, C. Heilmann and M.F. Zimmermann, Munich 1999, pp. 330–42 (333 and 340)

S. Herring, ‘The National Gallery and the collecting of Barbizon paintings in the early twentieth century’, Journal of the History of Collections, 13, no. 1, 2001, pp. 77–89 (85–6)


1. Such labels have been found on Corot, Summer Morning (NG 3238); Diaz, Venus and Cupids (NG 3246); attributed to Rousseau, Moonlight with Bathers (NG 3269); Matthijs Maris, Men unloading Carts in Montmartre (NG 2874), and Jacob Maris, The Three Windmills (NG 4399).

2. For a full discussion of materials and technique see article by  S. Herring, ‘Six Paintings by Corot in the National Gallery: Methods, Materials and Sources’, National Gallery Technical Bulletin, 30, 2009.

3. This might be the cause of the remark when the painting was exhibited at the Royal Academy: ‘His [Forbes’s] Avignon is a comparatively early Corot, less dexterously and more laboriously touched than most of those in the Grafton Gallery that we mentioned last week.’ See The Athenaeum, 15 February 1896, p. 223.

4. For a description of these changes see F. Leeman and H. Pennock, Museum Mesdag. Catalogue of Paintings and Drawings, Zwolle 1997, p. 138, no. 70.

5. E. Moreau-Nélaton in Robaut 1905,  I, p. 78.

6. Villeneuve-lès-Avignon. Vue prise d’Avignon  (R330),  Villeneuve-lès-Avignon: Vue prise dans le jardin de l’hospice (R331), both Paris, Musée du Louvre,  Villeneuve-lès-Avignon (R329), Indianapolis Museum of Art,  Villeneuve-lès-Avignon, Fort Saint-André (R333), The Hague, Mesdag Museum,  and Études de cypress  (R334). See also the following painting by Prosper Marilhat (formerly attributed to Corot), probably painted on the same trip: Villeneuve-lès-Avignon, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Reims.

7. See V. Pomarède, M. Pantazzi and G. Tinterow in Paris/ Ottawa/New York, 1996–7, no. 67.

8. See A. Roquebert, ‘Quelques observations sur la technique de Corot’, in Corot, un artiste et son temps. Actes des colloques organisés au Musée du Louvre par le Service Culturel les 1er et 2 mars 1996 à Paris et par l’Académie de France à Rome, Villa Médicis, le 9 mars 1996 à Rome, Paris and Rome 1998, pp. 73–97 and  84–5 on this, and the authors she quotes.

9. For Forbes see C. Welch, ‘Forbes, James Staats (1823–1904)’, rev. R. Harrington, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford  2004, vol. 20, pp. 291–2. E.G. Halton published a series of articles on Forbes’ collection in The Studio in October 1905.  For  his importance to the National Gallery see Herring  2001, pp. 77–89.

10. On Lane as a collector, his Gallery of Modern Art, and his bequest to the Gallery see particularly B. Dawson, ed., Hugh Lane: Founder of a Gallery of Modern Art for Ireland, London 2008.

11. ‘En 1873 Corot avait prêté cette étude au peintre Edouard Brandon.  Il l’a probablement copiée’. Robaut 1905, II, p. 116, no. 328. Brandon, who studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts from 1849, with François Picot, Antoine Montfort and Corot, is best known for his pictures of Jewish themes.

12. It is stated in the sale catalogue that it had come from a Corot sale, which appears to be incorrect. Ernest May  was a Parisian financier who was an important collector of the Impressionists.  He regularly bought, sold and exchanged paintings, making it difficult to gauge his collection at any one time. The painting by Degas, Portraits at the Stock Exchange of c. 1878-9 (Paris, Musée d’Orsay), includes in the centre a portrait of May. Information on May from A. Distel, Impressionism: The First Collectors, New York 1989, pp. 223–9.

13. As stated by Bodkin.

14. This and the other two Corots, NG 3238 and NG 3239, were among the original fifteen pictures selected by the National Gallery as being suitable for hanging. Interestingly, the portrait (now thought to be by a follower) was singled out as being of higher quality than the two landscapes by D.S. MacColl, then Keeper of the Wallace Collection, in an undated report on the collection. The landscapes were described as being ‘not so outstanding in merit’. On the other hand, John Singer Sargent, in a further report, described the painting as ‘a charming example of [Corot’s] best period.’ Papers in National Gallery Archive.

15. One of 31 of the 39 Lane paintings included.

16. A reference to the painting appears in Bodkin 1932: ‘an inferior version…which is in the collection of Monsieur Jacques Ernest May, was shown in 1932, in the exhibition of French art at Burlington House.’