Room 42

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Painting Out of Doors

Artists painted oil sketches in the open air, on paper or small panels, at least as early as the 17th century. By the late 18th century, the practice was widespread across Europe, with Italy the undisputed centre. Many artists congregated in Rome, from where they set out for the Roman Campagna and picturesque sites such as Tivoli.

During the 19th century, artists continued to work in Italy, including Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot who made three visits in 1825-8, 1834 and 1843. His Italian oil sketches were influential for fellow French artists such as Pierre-Etienne-Théodore Rousseau.

Painting quickly, many artists believed, was one way to capture fleeting light effects. However, not all the studies in this room are swiftly painted. Some, particularly the city scenes, are carefully executed, and detailed preparatory drawings lie underneath the paint layers.