Corot Exhibition Unleashes Beauty of Nature

"Voisinlieu, In Mr. Wallet's Park"

"Voisinlieu, In Mr. Wallet's Park"

The works of Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, the most influential French landscape painter in the late 19th century, will be displayed in the Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art from Jan. 31-March 23. A free, public reception for the exhibition, “Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot: The Lady Leslie Ridley-Tree Collection in the Context,” will feature live French music Thursday, Jan. 31, from 4-6 p.m. at the museum.

Lady Leslie Ridley-Tree has donated 10 paintings, 12 lithographs and a drawing by Corot to the exhibition. The museum will also feature works on loan from Michael Armand Hammer, Robert and Chris Emmons, Howard and Roberta Ahmanson, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art and other prestigious collections that place Lady Ridley-Tree’s works into the context of nineteenth century art.

"Watering Hole near Saint Omer, evening"

"Watering Hole near Saint Omer, evening"

Judy L. Larson, director of the museum and curator of the exhibition, has worked with a team of scholars to produce a 150-page catalog that includes essays by Larson, Amy Kurlander, a Corot scholar from Houston; Charlene Garfinkle, secretary of the Association of Historians of American Art, and entries by Laura diZerega, a UC Santa Barbara graduate student, and Brandon Waybright, Westmont museum outreach and education coordinator.

Three experts will speak at a symposium, “Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot: Conversations about Connoisseurship,” Saturday, Feb. 9, from 10 a.m. to noon in Winter Hall’s Darling Foundation Lecture Hall (Room 210) at Westmont. The talk includes Kurlander, Scott Allan, associate curator at the Getty Museum, and Jill Newhouse, a New York gallery owner and editor of a definitive catalog on Corot’s drawings.

"The Boatman near the Old Oaks"

"The Boatman near the Old Oaks"

“Corot’s work celebrates the ethereal beauty of nature,” Larson says. “Corot was an influential leader among the Barbizon artists. He loved to paint the sunrise and sunset and is among the first landscape painters to capture the specifics of weather and atmosphere by going directly to nature and painting ‘en plein aire.’”

The Dutch post-Impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh owned a Corot painting and praised Corot’s figure paintings. “Picasso saw a selection of Corot’s figural works at the 1909 Salon D’Automne, which likely served as the inspiration of his own classical female figures holding mandolins or violins — a direct borrowing from Corot,” Waybright says. “Monet himself praised Corot, calling him ‘the only master. We are nothing to him, nothing …’

“We hope to communicate Corot’s love and appreciation of nature by sharing these paintings with our students and community on the beautiful Westmont campus We also hope that his work will open eyes to the natural world that surrounds us. For art students, there can be few better ways to learn about how to capture a landscape in movement than by encountering the work of Corot.”

The museum is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. It is closed Sundays and college holidays. For more information, please visit www.westmontmuseum.org or contact the museum at (805) 565-6162.