Peasants under the Trees at Dawn

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'Peasants under the Trees at Dawn' was given by the artist to the painter William Wyld (1806–1889)14;  his sale, 30 May 1890, lot 136 (600 francs)15;  with Galerie Paul Rosenberg, Paris; in the collection of Albert Sancholle Henraux (1881–1953) by 1930, when exhibited at the Galerie Rosenberg, thus indicating that Henraux probably bought it from Rosenberg himself.16 Henraux was curator at the Musée Condé in Chantilly, president of the Société des Amis du Louvre, vice-president of the Conseil des Musées Nationaux and director of France’s Commission de Récupération Artistique at the end of World War II; in the collection of Tony Mayer (born 1902) by 194917; French by birth, Mayer was a long-time employee of the French Embassy in London, and in 1959 published La Vie Anglaise, a factual book about life in England. He lent this picture to the Galerie Daber, Paris, in 1951, and he was still living in 1968. In 1957 a sale of  part of his collection, with the catalogue written by his friend Jean Dieterle: Collection de m. Tony Mayer – dessins anciens, tableaux modernes, 18 aquarelles par Delacroix, took place at Galerie Charpentier, Paris, 3 December 1957, but this painting was not included. The initials JD, which are written in red paint on the back of the painting, possibly refer to Jean Dieterle; with Galerie Daber, from whom purchased by the National Gallery, 1977.


1. For Mayer see under Provenance.

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. Noted by Leighton 1996, pp. 26–7, and by Roy 1999, p. 333. In fact Robaut had already surmised that the study had been painted in six sittings. See Collection Robaut, vol. 3, plate 157.


4. See Roy 1999, pp. 330–42 (340). Avignon from the West also has this mixture of vermilion and cobalt blue mixed with white at the horizon.


5. Her attitude anticipates that of the woman gathering foliage from the tree in Corot’s Souvenir de Mortefontaine of 1864 (Paris, Musée du Louvre). This is noted by Geiger 1973–5, p. 334.

6. See, for example, the description of Morvan by Augustus Hare: ‘the wild district of Morvan (Montagne noire), which has a Celtic population, weaving the ancient saga, and speaking a patois incomprehensible to the inhabitants of the plain’. A.J.C. Hare, South-Eastern France, London 1890, p. 74, quoted in Clarke 1991, pp. 65–6.


7. See K. Baedeker, Le Nord-Est de la France. De Paris aux Ardennes, aux Vosges et au Rhône, Leipzig 1914, pp. 370–1.


8. R293. Lot 4 of sale, property of the Greentree Foundation, from the collection of Mr and Mrs John Hay Whitney, Sotheby’s, New York, 5 May 2004.


9. See Berte-Langereau 1993, pp. 8–9 and 17. The compiler is grateful to Berte-Langereau for further clarifying the view of NG 6439 in correspondence.

10. See Balleret 1997, p. 16, who states that it was this marriage that introduced Corot to the area. While it is true that he stayed with them in Lormes in 1834, he had already visited the area in 1831.


11. Clark 1966, p. 94. However, not all writers praise this picture. Adams (Adams 1994 p. 122) points out the fragmentation of the figures by the central clump of trees and calls the composition clumsy and disordered. ‘Neither well finished nor picturesque, it would have fallen within the very lowest category of landscape painting.’

12. Exceptions to this are View of Lormes  (R421), jointly owned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Mrs Walter Mendelsohn, see A. Schoeller and J. Dieterle, Corot. Premier Supplement à l’Oeuvre de Corot par A.. Robaut et Moreau-Nélaton, Paris 1948, no. 16,  and  Morvan Landscape  (R878), Strasbourg, Musée des Beaux-Arts. The panoramic view and long format of these paintings are reminiscent of such paintings as Avignon from the West.

13. See  Toussaint,  Monnier and  Servot,  Paris 1975,  p. 49.

14. William Wyld (1806–1889) was a follower of Richard Parkes Bonington (1802–1828) who worked and exhibited mainly in France. Apart from this gift, no other details are known about any contact or friendship between Wyld and Corot.

15. According to F. Lugt, Répertoire des catalogues de ventes publiques, The Hague, 1938–87, III, 1964, p. 492, none of the catalogues in existence are annotated with buyers’ names.

16. There is a gap in the provenance from 1890 to 1930. It is possible that the painting belonged at one point to Mme Sanchez Toledo whose name appears on the stretcher. It is also possible that the stretcher was reused.

17. NG 6439 was in the possession of Tony Mayer when it was included in the Corot exhibition at the Galerie Daber in 1951. A letter in the Daber Archives requesting the loan of the painting is dated 12 March 1949. There is also a letter in the same archives from Tony Mayer giving the title of the painting in Bazin ‘à l’époque où il appartenait à la collection Albert S. Henraux’. The author is grateful to M. Blondeau for giving access to the Daber Archives.


18. Its present location is unknown. There is a photograph of it in the Gallery dossier for NG 6439.