What An Art Lover Should Know About Jean Baptiste Camille Corot


Jean Baptiste Camille Corot was a 19th-century French painter known for his landscape and portrait paintings. The precision and beauty of Jean Baptiste’s art solidified landscape paintings as a valid genre of art. 

Jean-Baptiste was an artist whose story inspired artists and art lovers alike. In this article, we go through certain facts about Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot’s life that every art lover should know. 

Camile Corot wasn’t Poor

We bet you’ve heard more about artists who struggled than those who lived in abundance. Well, the famous Jean Baptiste painter never struggled as an artist. His mother and father, Marie Françoise Oberson Corot and Louis Jacques Corot were considered middle-class in France.

Before getting married, Camille Corot’s father was a wig maker, and his mother a milliner. When they were joined, they bought the shop Marie worked at, while Corot’s father quit his job as a wigmaker. As a result, they made viable investments and managed the business profitably. 

After his sister’s passing in 1822, Corot began receiving a yearly allowance of 1500 francs. He used this money to travel around and finance his career by purchasing art materials and setting up a studio. 

Thanks to his family’s financial support, Corot didn’t need to depend on selling his art for a livelihood. Instead, jean-Baptist could focus on discovering his style and improving his craft as an artist.

Jean-Baptiste Corot Didn’t Start Painting Until Much Later

Unlike many famous artists who started painting at an early age, Jean Baptiste didn’t become a painter until adulthood in his twenties. Even while studying on a scholarship in Rouen at Lycée Pierre-Corneille, he didn’t show any artistic inclinations.

His attendance there was short-lived as he didn’t show academic prowess. He then went to boarding school but didn’t seem interested in studying any subject, not even art. As a result, he never won any academic prizes or special recognitions.  

After schooling, he began an apprenticeship with a draper when he was 21. He hated business, of course, and didn’t want to partake in what he called “business tricks.” It wasn’t until he turned 26 that his father permitted him to become a painter after Corot attempted and failed to finish his apprenticeship.

Once given the opportunity, Corot immediately began painting landscapes. You could say his landscape inclinations are due to his stay with the Sennegan family. The patriarch spent time with young Corot and frequently went nature walks with him.

He Was Married To His Art 

All artists need a support system, even romantic ones. Although Corot did have support from his family, he wasn’t involved in any romantic relationships and hence, didn’t receive support from any romantic partner. However, he focused entirely on his art and didn’t hide it. 

A glance over Jean-Baptiste’s art portraits would show that he liked the female figure. During his Italian travels and after painting a handful of women, Corot concluded that Italian women were superior in beauty to French women.

Unsurprisingly, he preferred to paint Italian women’s beautiful eyes, hands, and shoulders. He, however, held that French women were superior in grace and kindness, preferring them when it came to emotion. 

Some Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot paintings of women include Madame Stumpf and Her Daughter (1872), Springtime of Life (1871), and The Letter (ca.1865). Also, Corot sometimes merged his love for landscapes with his portrait paintings of women, like in Louise Harduin (1831) and Algérienne (1871 – 1873).

He Was A Lover And Teacher Of Art

Artists naturally love art, but not everyone has the flare and passion for sharing their knowledge and skills. So after his parents died, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot began teaching his painting style and taking on students.

His teaching style was of a fatherly nature, often providing advice with moments of comedy. But, to Corot’s students, he was welcoming, open, and amusing. 

Some Jean-Baptist art students were impressionist Camille Pissaro and Edouard Brandon, a Jewish artist. There was also Alexandre Defaux, Charles Le Roux, François-Louis Français, Antoine Chintreuil, Stanislas Lépine, Berthe Morisot, Eugène Boudin, and Camille Pissarro.

He Was Apolitical And Extremely Generous With His Wealth

As earlier mentioned, Camille Corot was never poor. And when he gained more recognition as an artist, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot’s paintings sold for 4000 francs a piece. Combined with his family support, he was comfortable enough to be generous to others in cash and kindness. 

He supported others by using his influence within the artist’s community to recommend younger artists for commissioned work. Also, when Paris was under siege by the Persians, he donated two thousand euros to help the poor in Paris. 

He was also of great help to Honoré Daumier, a prolific painter who became blind, poor, and homeless. In 1872, Corot bought him a house, putting a roof over his head. 

Furthermore, when French artist Jean-François Millet died in 1875, Corot supported his widow and children by donating 10,000 Francs. While he gave to individuals, Corot was also a sponsor at the children’s centre in rue Vandrezanne in Paris. 

His First Self-Portrait Was A Commission 

Regarding Jean-Baptiste art, It’s no news that Camille Corot favoured landscapes over any other subject in nature. What might be news is that his first self-portrait was a commissioned work for his parents. Surprised?

It was about when the young Corot made his first trip to Italy. He followed the lead of other French painters who crossed borders to Italy to study with the Italian Renaissance masters. 

Although his parents supported him, they would only let him go under one condition: he would paint a self-portrait for them. 

His first self-portrait became one of many family-related commissions. Then, as he grew older and became more precise in his style, Corot painted some portraits of relatives and friends, often painting two copies. One was for the family and the other for the subject. 


From his early life until his death, the famous Jean-Baptiste was a painter who stayed true to himself, his art, and the art world. He loved to live freely, paint, and share this passion with the world through his art and supporting those in need.