JEAN-BAPTISTE-CAMILLE COROT (French 1796 - 1875)
    Study for the Head of St. John the Baptist, 1844-45
    Oil on canvas
    9-1/2 x 6-1/4 inches
    Stamped lower left, VENTE COROT

    The artist's posthumous sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, May 31-June 4, 1875, lot 369, sold to M. Diot;
    Henri Rouart, Paris;
    Heinrich Thannhauser, Munich;
    Galerie Dr. Raeber, Basel;
    Sale, Sotheby's, New York, April 20, 2005, lot 53;
    Private Collection

    A. Robaut, L'Oeuvre de Corot, 1905, vol. II, p. 175, no. 472, illus. P. 174

    This preparatory oil painting is one of several studies that Corot made for The Baptism of Christ, a large canvas commissioned for the Church of Saint-Nicolas-du-Chardonnet in Paris. His only officially commissioned work, Corot made careful preparations for the painting, which he completed in 1847. The present study, executed in the beginning stages of the project, is dated to 1844-45.

    In Corot's early compositional studies for The Baptism, this blue-cloaked figure appears in the lower left section; but in the final version he is replaced by a woman and child. Although Corot did not include the entire figure in the final painting, it is important to note that he used the hand for that of St. John the Baptist, with water trickling off his fingers onto the head of Christ.

    The present oil study is a superb example of Corot's artistic virtuosity. With its loose and sketchy brushwork, and focus on the figure's face and hand, the picture has a remarkable sense of immediacy. The figure's furrowed brow and intense gaze reveal Corot's use of a live model. In fact, the model has been identified by Martin Dieterle as the old Italian man who died of pneumonia after modeling in Corot's studio during a very cold winter; a loss for which the artist always felt personally responsible (see Robaut in Literature above, vol. 1, pp. 79-80).

    This oil study has an impressive provenance. It remained in the artist's studio until his death and was sold in his posthumous sale at Hôtel Drouot in 1875 to André Diot, a Parisian dealer who specialized in Barbizon School paintings. A stamp on the reverse indicates that the painting may at one time have been in the possession of Paul Detrimont, a Parisian dealer who often contributed to and assisted with sales at Hôtel Drouot in the late nineteenth century. Henri Rouart, an engineer, collector, and artist who worked and exhibited with the Impressionists, owned the painting from at least 1905. A great admirer and collector of Corot and other Barbizon painters, Rouart probably purchased this oil study from the Hôtel Drouot, where he acquired much of his collection.

    Estimate: $60,000 - $80,000.

    Condition Report*:

    Condition report available upon request.

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    Auction Dates
    November, 2006
    9th-10th Thursday-Friday
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