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Work Hymn to the Sun

Department of Prints and Drawings: 19th century

L'Hymne au soleil, ou Orphée saluant la lumière

Prints and Drawings
19th century

Chabod Christine

If around 1850 Corot used colored paper and charcoal rather than pencil in his drawings, this was because they were the most appropriate means to evoke the imaginative universe splendidly evoked here by this Hymn to the Sun. This reflection on the place of man, immobile at the heart of majestic nature, is bathed in a crepuscular light that gives the composition a mysterious, visionary air.

Day and Night

Together with a number of other artists, such as Jean-François Millet, Théodore Rousseau, and Eugène Fromentin, Corot contributed to the decoration of the new Paris mansion of Prince Demidoff. Commissioned by the architect Alfred Feydeau to paint two large panels on the subject of Day and Night, Corot produced these at his friend Philippe Comairas's Fontainebleau studio in July 1865. This drawing and its companion piece, The Sleep of Diana or Night, also in the Louvre (RF 23334), are sketches for those two works, which were executed, according to Corot's biographer Étienne Moreau-Nélaton, during a stay in Arras with his friend Dutilleux.

Corot as decorative painter

In the course of his career, Corot executed other decorative works that no longer survive. He painted several scenes for the summer house in his parents' garden at Ville d'Avray (1847), decorated the dining room at Léon Fleury's house at Magny-les-Hameaux (1855-60), and the Château de Gruyères in Switzerland (1854-58). He also provided several sketches to be used by his pupil Oudinot and the younger Daubigny in the decoration of the latter's father's house at Auvers-sur-Oise.

A change of style

This drawing is highly representative of Corot's second period draftsmanship. His earliest works, in the 1830s, drawn in lead pencil or with a sharpened quill, testify to an extremely analytic vision. The style of the later drawings is, however, very different. From 1850 onward, although remaining firmly attached to reality, Corot developed an increasingly lyrical conception of nature, with effects of light and shade playing a primary role in his work. The incisive pencil was put aside, giving way to charcoal that might or might not be highlighted with white chalk, whose melting accents reinforce the poetic, sometimes melancholic atmosphere of the landscapes. It during this period that Corot started using dyed paper, in buff, brown, or gray, colors suitable for the rendering of deep, velvety shadows.


M. Servot, Dessins de Corot 1796-1875 : XXIXe exposition du Cabinet des Dessins, cat. exp. Paris, musée du Louvre, juillet - décembre 1962, notice 90.
M. Servot, Hommage à Corot, cat. exp. Paris, musée national de l'Orangerie des Tuileries, juin - septembre 1975, notice 164.
R. Bacou, Maîtres du blanc et noir au XIXe siècle : dessins du musée du Louvre, cat. exp. Dijon, musée des Beaux-Arts, décembre 1975 - janvier 1976, notice 13.
R. Malbert, Corot, cat. exp. Manchester, City Art Galleries, mai - juin 1991, Norwich, Castle Museum, juillet - août 1991, notice 50.
A. Sérullaz, Corot : le génie du trait : estampes et dessins. L'oeuvre gravé et dessiné de Corot, cat. exp. Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, février - mai 1996, notice 158.
A. Robaut, L'oeuvre de Corot : catalogue raisonné et illustré, Paris, 1905.
É. Moreau-Nélaton, Corot raconté par lui-même, Paris, 1924.
G. de Wallens, Corot, l'homme heureux par excellence, Paris, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, 1996. Petit journal des grandes expositions, n 277.
V. Pomarède, G. de Wallens, Corot, la mémoire du paysage, Paris, Gallimard, 1996.

Technical description

  • Camille Corot (Paris 1796-Paris 1875)

    Hymn to the Sun


    A gift from the artist to Alfred Robaut; Alfred Robaut Collection; P.-A. Chéramy Collection; Raymond Koechlin Collection

  • Charcoal, stumped and highlighted in white, on buff paper

    H. 47 cm; L. 30.6 cm

  • Raymond Koechlin Collection; bequeathed to the Louvre in 1932

    Orpheus Greeting the Light

    RF 23333

  • Prints and Drawings

    Due to their fragility, works on paper are not on permanent display in the museum.

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Additional information about the work

Signed bottom left in charcoal: COROT