Camille Corot
(Paris, 1796-1875, Paris)
Sitting Monk, Reading, ca. 1865
Oil on canvas, 73 x 50 cm
Signed lower left: Corot
Robaut 1332
Relatively few solitary male figures appear in Corot’s work. There is, above all, a total absence of portraits of his numerous friends, with whom he was very congenial. On the other side, the figure of the monk is a persistent motif throughout Corot's work, basically a reflection of himself, his alter ego, Corot having renounced a home of his own to serve art exclusively, a wanderer through the world – in this sense he led a truly monastic life. In these pictures of monks his solitariness is expressed, his self-exclusion from the great world – unlike artists like Géricault, Delacroix and Chassériau, Corot was not a part of the fashionable societey of his days. The picture now in the Bührle collection is considered the best in the series by Meier-Graefe; it was painted some ten years later than most of the monk pictures, as a free variation in which a beige-grey tone prevails.