Monsieur Pivot on Horseback
Painted for Corot himself; given to Pivot’s widow by the artist after 1856 but retrieved by Corot in 1873. The painting stayed in his studio until his death in 1875; it was included by mistake in the Corot studio sale, Paris, 26 May to 9 June 1875 (lot 358), but withdrawn; bequeathed by the sitter before 1892 to his niece, Mme Coffignon, and by her to her son, Edmond Coffignon (1863–1923), who lived at Blois.10 Edmond studied at the Académie Julian in Paris with Percyval Tudor-Hart (1873–1954), who lived in London, who bought (?) NG 3816 from him in around 1919 when Edmond had fallen on hard times;11 it was offered in May 1920 to the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Château de Blois, for 25,000 francs, by Ajard, but nothing came of the offer.12 Purchased by the National Gallery from P. Tudor Hart, Grant-in-Aid and Mackerell Fund, 1923.
1. 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 p. 95, note 14.
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. In the dossier there are two reports by Tudor-Hart on the painting: the first gives a history of its condition and treatment prior to 1919, when he acquired it, the second gives a report of his own treatment when the painting was in his possession. See also A.A. MacGregor, Percyval Tudor-Hart 1873-1954. Portrait of an Artist, London 1961, especially chapter XIII which is on the Corot painting itself.
4. Information from G. Matheron, Corot à Ville-d’Avray, exh. cat., Musée d’Avray, 1987, no. 39.
5. Alfred Robaut. Documents sur Corot. Quoted in G. Bazin, Figures de Corot, exh. cat., Paris 1962, p. 102, no. 41. This anecdote is embellished in MacGregor 1961, p. 172, where it is stated that Corot was struck by the appearance of the grey horse and the pale yellow hat against the foliage. He also goes on the state that Pivot commissioned Corot to complete it ‘as a serious example of his work’, and that Corot had the painting in his studio at the time of his death in order to add some finishing touches. This is obviously not the case, although it is certain that the artist did finish the painting back in the studio.
6. Madeleine Hours makes the link between the two paintings. See Hours 1984, p. 111.
7.It was exhibited in Figures de Corot, Musée du Louvre, Paris 1962, no. 80, where it was linked to both Monsieur Pivot and Madame Stumpf and her Daughter of 1872 (R2125) (Washington, National Gallery of Art, no. 81 in the exhibition) as pastoral scenes. R. Pickvance included a further work which can be added to the group, Children in the Wood of 1872 (R2128), private collection (Corot. El Parque de los Leones en Port Marly, 1872, exh. cat., Madrid 2001, no. 3), where two children, one in a white and the other in a grey dress, stand against thick forest, where the odd silver birch trunk is picked out.
8. L. Delteil, Le Peintre-graveur illustré, Paris 1906–30, vol. V, 1910, no. 42 (TheLittle Horseman in the Wood) writes: ‘Corot a traité plusieurs fois ce même sujet: en peinture, puis encore en dessin sur verre (voir le no. 46)’. M. Melot, L’Oeuvre gravé de Boudin, Corot, Daubigny, Dupré, Jongkind, Millet, Théodore Rousseau, Paris 1978, no. 42.
9. Letter in the Cabinet des Estampes, Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris. Quoted in Claude Bouret, Corot. Le génie du trait. Estampes et dessins, exh. cat., Paris 1996, p. 35.
10. The author is grateful to Nathalie Michel-Szelechowska (formerly Nathalie Michel) for her help in ascertaining the date of death for Edmond Coffingnon, and for further assistance with the provenance.
11. According to McGregor, Edmond was about to sell it to an acquaintance for a song. The date of 1919 is given by Tudor-Hart in one of his reports in the dossier for the painting. Albert Renou, a noted architect at Blois and a mutual friend, looked after some money for Edmond which Tudor-Hart had sent him from the sale of the Corot to the National Gallery.
12. Information from the archives of Martin Dieterle, kindly conveyed by Nathalie Michel-Szelechowska.