This view belongs to the group of pictures that Corot painted during his stay in north-east France in 1871. The site depicted is probably the Canal de la Sensée between Arleux and Palluel. Corot first painted the view in May 1871, basing his picture on a study by his friend Alfred Robaut, with whom he was staying. In July he painted this version in the open air, finishing it off back in the studio in November 1874. There are small compositional differences between the two paintings, and in this second version Corot added fishing nets on the right bank.
The overall blond tonality of this picture, shared by a number of other paintings by Corot from the 1870s, may be a response to the light palettes of the Impressionists. It is also fairly flatly painted in comparison with many of his later works. The foliage of the trees is more solid, with less of the shimmering brushwork he habitually added.
This view belongs to the group of pictures that Corot painted during his stay in north-east France in the spring and summer of 1871 – The Marsh at Arleux is another example. It is the second version of the composition. The first (now in a private collection), painted in May 1871, was based on a study by Alfred Robaut, with whom Corot was staying at the time. In July Robaut rented a cottage near Arleux for Corot’s use, and he was able to paint this second view on the spot. According to Robaut, Corot completed it back in the studio more than three years later, in November 1874.
The site depicted is probably the Canal de la Sensée, which now joins up with the Canal du Nord between Arleux and Palluel (which is shown in Souvenir of Palluel). There are small compositional differences between the two paintings, and in this second version Corot added fishing nets on the right bank in place of a figure of an old woman trudging along with a bundle on her back. The overall light tonality of this picture is shared by a number of other paintings by Corot from the 1870s, and it has been suggested that he was responding to the Impressionist palette of such painters as Pissarro, Sisley and Monet. The painting also has the formality of composition and clarity of style associated with the work of his earlier period, for example Avignon from the West. In general it is more flatly painted than many of his later works, of which Souvenir of a Journey to Coubron is a supreme example. The foliage of the trees is more solid, with less of the shimmering brushwork he habitually added. This contrasts with the much busier surface of the first version, and it may be that when Corot finished off the painting in the studio in 1874 he added the highlights and surface touches which enliven some areas of the composition. These include an area of white and off-white dots in the grass at the extreme right and touches of green laid over the reeds on the left bank.
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