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The Four Times of Day

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Corot painted these four wooden panels – Morning, Noon, Evening and Night – for his friend and fellow artist, Alexandre-Gabriel Decamps. The panels were to decorate the studio in the house Decamps had recently bought at Fontainebleau, a town southeast of Paris. Other artists, including Bonvin and Philippe Rousseau, were asked to produce paintings for the dining room.The Fontainebleau forest was a popular location for artists in the mid-nineteenth century, especially the area in and around the neighbouring village of Barbizon.

As with many of Corot’s paintings, this group combines aspects of the classical tradition of idealised landscape, as represented by the seventeenth-century French artist Claude, with the practice of sketching in oils outdoors. The series was completed in just one week, and the freshness of Corot’s brushwork particularly impressed Decamps. Corot’s technique was also admired by Impressionist painters such as Monet, who painted series showing different times of the day.

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