The Bathers of the Borromean Isles
Oil on canvas
In the 1830s, Corot worked alongside a number of other landscape painters based in the French village of Barbizon, on the edge of the Forest of Fontainebleau, not far from Paris. There he painted sketches in the open air from which he made finished paintings back in the studio. This painting, however, grows out of the artist's memories of several visits to Italy -- at least twenty years before the picture itself was painted. The bathers in the foreground could be contemporaries of the artist, splashing around in a northern Italian lake, but the whole image -- with its soft greens and grays and its idyllic golden light -- suggests a more poetic theme. The figures seem to be timeless; they dip their bodies into the water as the setting sun touches the landscape and fills the distant buildings with gentle warmth.
This work is currently traveling abroad as part of the Clark's international tour.