The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate,
MD, Senior Contributing Editor.
He was too seldom tormented by devils, said Baudelaire of landscape
painter Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot (1796-1875) in a review of the Paris Salon
of 1859. Rather than being an artist of "glaring brilliance," Corot was one
of "infallible harmony," one with an eye that was "keen and judicious," and
"more concerned with what establishes harmony than with what emphasizes contrast";
he enchanted—albeit slowly—rather than dazzled. To the criticism
from those who said Corot's color was "too soft," and his light "crepuscular,"
Baudelaire responded that it was the exhibition walls of the Salon itself
that were at fault: "Even the most luminous Veroneses would often appear pale
and grey if they were surrounded by certain modern paintings which are more
garish than peasant's scarves." Moreover, he concluded, Corot is "the only
one who always knows where to place the bones and what dimensions to give
them." Corot was, in short, a painter's painter, one whose genius could not
be appreciated in an instant, but only after long acquaintance with the ways
of painting. He was, as Baudelaire said in his review of an earlier Salon,
one who painted with "heart and soul," who knew how to look at nature "with
as much knowledge as love."
Southgate MT. Wounded Eurydice. JAMA. 2000;283(22):2899. doi:10.1001/jama.283.22.2899