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The Four Times of Day: Noon
Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot
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This is the second in the series The Four Times of Day that Corot painted for his friend, fellow artist Alexandre-Gabriel Decamps. In this panel, the light is brighter than in the previous panel, Morning, and fills the picture. There is an overall lightening of tone and a wider range of colours. The application of the paint is still sketchy, and you can see traces of the paintbrush’s bristle in several places.

Nearest to us, a young man in a white shirt and red hat rests his left foot upon a rock as he adjusts his shoe. Unlike the figure in Morning, we can see his face (in profile) and there is greater detail to his clothing. Lit from above, he barely casts a shadow, as the sun is high in the sky. Further back, a man with a walking stick and a woman wearing a white hat are walking along the path, although their direction of travel is unclear.

Key facts
Artist Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot
Artist dates 1796 - 1875
Full title The Four Times of Day: Noon
Group The Four Times of Day
Date made about 1858
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 142.2 x 62.2 cm
Acquisition credit Bought with the assistance of the Art Fund (with a contribution from The Wolfson Foundation), 2014
Inventory number NG6652
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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