Jean Baptiste Corot is one of the greatest landscape painters of French painting of the 19th century, and although he has left us many works Inspired by his native country, it is also true that a large number of his paintings represent landscapes of Italian lands, as is the case of this work Souvenir of Italy or the view of the Castle of Sant' Angelo in Rome. And it is that this artist lived in the transalpine country between 1825 and 1828, like so many artists of his generation, who traveled to Italy to acquire a solid training and learn first-hand the works of the great artists of the preceding centuries.
Memory of Corot's Italy
Indeed, Corot was completely fascinated by the light of Italy, and traveled there again later in 1834 and 1843 But curiously, this canvas was painted in 1864, the date already appears on the work itself. That is to say, 21 years after his last visit, which clearly shows the imprint that Italian landscapes left on his mind and his art.
Also in Italy he met another of the great French landscape painters, Claude Lorrain. Both artists have many points in common and one of them is that they specialized in painting landscapes with the time of sunrise or sunset.
In this case, it presents the image with the light of the first hours of the day. A light that provokesintense shadows and that filters through the leaves of the dense vegetation. Light is very important in his painting and in this case it can be seen how the greatest light source of the canvas is in the center of it, at an indeterminate point between the mountains and the boat that can be seen on the shore. A luminosity that contrasts with the area of the riverbank that is still in darkness.
As a good painter influenced by the spirit of the Romanticism of his time, he created this type of landscape from a real scene, but he modified it as he pleased so that it would serve him to convey the feelings and sensations you experienced at the time you visited them.
His pictorial mastery of his is innate. He is capable of outlining bushes, leaves or trunks with exquisite care. He does not neglect details and precision at all, despite the mist in which the place is shrouded. For this, he based himself on the notes taken from nature and which he then conscientiously reworked in his workshop.
But in addition to that precise and meticulous brushwork he is also capable of creating fantastic lighting effects. For example, here the mist is created by overlapping glazes of various pigments until he achieves the desired effect. He uses few colors for this, green for the vegetation, brown for the wood, violet for the sky and yellow for the light. There are only slightly bright tones in some flowers, because Corot considered that color was an "additional charm" and that it had to be discreet in its use.