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Work The Bridge at Narni
Department of Paintings: French painting
The Bridge at Narni
© 1995 RMN / Hervé Lewandowski
Painted near Rome, this picture is marked by an impressive freedom of brushwork and organization. At the 1827 Salon Corot showed a view of the same site - now in the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa - which is very much in the noble tradition of the Neoclassical landscape.
A first impression
Here we see the original sketch in oils, intended not to be shown but rather to retain the "first impression" to which, Corot said, "you have to remain faithful." Painted during his first trip to Italy in 1826, this open-air study was used by the artist as the basis for a large landscape shown in the 1827 Salon in Paris and now in the National Gallery in Ottawa. Narni is a large town in the countryside north of Rome. "If they are to please, landscapes - views of the countryside - must be colorful and perfectly executed": such was one of the precepts Corot observed in setting out to capture a view already made known by Valenciennes and Michallon.
The studio painting
On his return to his studio, Corot painted the version intended for the public, bringing a more academic approach to bear on his initial vision: the steep slope in the foreground becomes a handsome terrace on which, as tradition required, shepherds watch their flocks. Nearby are two umbrella pines - proof that we are in the Roman countryside.
Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot
The Bridge at Narni
Oil on paper, mounted on canvas
H. 34 cm; W. 48 cm
Étienne Moreau-Nélaton donation, 1906
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