8. Eugène Decan

Paris 1829 – 1893 Paris

Corot at his Easel, Crécy-en-Brie

According to Corot, before painting a landscape, one must “savoir s’asseoir” (know how to sit), carefully selecting and framing a motif, and finding the right conditions to observe and study nature. Here, the scene which captured Corot’s attention is hidden from sight, yet it is easy to understand why Eugène Decan, another pupil of Cogniet, would have chosen to paint the revered master at work. Wearing a painter’s smock and smoking his pipe, he is sitting before a simple field easel, his paint box laying open on the grass by his side. The two painted together in 1873 around the village of Crécy-en-Brie, now known as Crécy-la-Chapelle, and Corot stayed with Decan in his house south-east of Paris in late August 1874. The younger artist must have cherished the time he spent painting out-of-doors with Corot, as he kept this portrait for the rest of his life, and it was only sold at his estate sale in 1894. Another portrait, probably painted during the same visit, shows Corot from behind and is now preserved in a private collection.