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The Four Times of Day: Evening
Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot
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This is the third in a series of four panels illustrating the different times of day that Corot painted for his friend, fellow artist Alexandre-Gabriel Decamps. It is evening and colours are at their richest. Nearest to us, a mysterious figure is wearing what appears to be a dark brown monk’s habit with a hood, possibly Capuchin robes. Two women are in a boat on the shoreline. One, in a white and pink dress, is sitting, while the other, in a white dress and yellow shawl, stands as she holds an instrument that may be a mandolin.

The women’s clothing, landscape setting and the presence of music suggest a fête galante, a type of picture showing elegantly attired men and women in a parkland setting which was particularly popular at the court of Versailles in the eighteenth century. The lakeside location ringed by tall sinuous trees with billowing feathery foliage also has echoes of French Rococo painting.

Key facts
Artist Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot
Artist dates 1796 - 1875
Full title The Four Times of Day: Evening
Series The Four Times of Day
Date made about 1858
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 142.2 x 72.3 cm
Acquisition credit Bought with the assistance of the Art Fund (with a contribution from The Wolfson Foundation), 2014
Inventory number NG6653
Location in Gallery Room 45
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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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