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Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, The Four Times of Day: Night

Key facts
Full title The Four Times of Day: Night
Artist Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot
Artist dates 1796 - 1875
Series The Four Times of Day
Date made about 1858
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 142.2 × 64.7 cm
Acquisition credit Bought with the assistance of the Art Fund (with a contribution from The Wolfson Foundation), 2014
Inventory number NG6654
Location Room 45
Collection Main Collection
The Four Times of Day: Night
Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot

A rare example of a night scene by Corot, this is the last in a series of four panels illustrating the different times of day that he painted for his friend, fellow artist Alexandre-Gabriel Decamps. As in Morning, we see a single figure, probably a man, accompanied by a dog. There is a sense of a journey home at the end of the day.

As the day draws to a close, colour drains from the landscape and we return to the near-monochrome tones of Morning. The houses that cling to the hill and the square tower hint at an Italian landscape – a suggestion which extends the possible reference to Italy introduced by the figure of the monk in Evening.

Corot’s visits to Italy had a profound effect upon his art. It was in Rome that he began painting series of views of the same scene or building at various times of the day to show different lighting conditions.

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The Four Times of Day


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.