6. Paint Box of Camille Corot

Paris 1796 – 1875 Paris

This paint box was bequeathed to the Kunstmuseum in The Hague by the Dutch artist Matthijs Maris (1839–1917) who was a great admirer of Corot. He bought the master’s paint box at his estate sale in Paris in May 1875, three months after the artist’s death. In the lid of the box, which seemingly accompanied him for many years, Corot kept an intriguing collage of little painted motifs. Maris must have seen it as a relic, much like the instrument of a famous musician. Taking place just one year after the first Impressionist exhibition of 1874, which had announced the end of ‘finish’ in painting, Corot’s estate sale and memorial exhibition revealed the modernity of his oil sketches to a wider public. These studies had previously been the privilege of a limited circle, albeit one that included influential artists and critics. At the time, the art critic Philippe Burty wrote that: “Some of these studies… are famous in the studios. Corot lent them willingly and they have had a happy influence on the contemporary school.”1

1“Quelques-unes de ces études … sont célèbres dans les ateliers. Corot les prêtait volontiers, et elles ont eu sur l’école contemporaine une influence heureuse.”, Philippe Burty, Exposition de l’œuvre de Corot à l’Ecole nationale des Beaux-Arts, Paris, 1875, p. 7.