Art: PUBLIC FAVORITES (39)

JEAN-BAPTISTE CAMILLE COROT was one of the most puzzling painters of the 19th century. His studio pictures could be weak, dull and sickly sweet; his paintings direct from nature were often as pure and clear as a thrush's song. An example of Corot at his best is his Blonde Gasconne (opposite), the public favorite at the Smith College Museum of Art. In this simple picture the pearly atmosphere is conveyed as only Corot could, and the girl seems almost a condensation of the cool sea air. She is an unforgettable presence, melancholy and mysterious as a peasant Mona Lisa. Corot started...

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