About This Artwork

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot
French, 1796-1875

Interrupted Reading, c. 1870

Oil on canvas mounted on board
36 5/16 x 25 5/8 in. (92.5 x 65.1 cm)
Inscribed middle left: Corot.

Potter Palmer Collection, 1922.410

Interrupted Reading is among the most compelling of Camille Corot’s late figure paintings. Corot almost never exhibited these studies of the human form, preferring instead to publicize the idyllic landscapes that were his specialty. To emphasize the private nature of Interrupted Reading, Corot enclosed his model within the protective environment of the artist’s studio. The mood of the painting is introspective and somewhat melancholic, the very essence of the Romantic sensibility. The muselike image of a woman reading a book was a popular one in nineteenth-century art, but Corot chose to show his model pausing, looking up from this activity. A lover of everything Italian (he spent a number of years there), the artist often furnished his models with Italianate costumes such as the one worn here. Whereas Corot’s subject matter is traditional, his technique is not. With direct and bold brushwork, he explored the human form as a construction of masses that support and balance one another. This broad handling is complemented by the artist’s obvious delight in detail—the ribbon in the model’s hair, the delicate earrings, the deep folds in the skirt. Here he combined a profound sense of formal structure with the dreamy softness and intimacy that characterize his most famous landscapes.

— Entry, Essential Guide, 2009, p. 214.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Paris, L’Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts, Exposition de l’Oeuvre de Corot, 1875, cat. 93.

Cambridge, Mass., Fogg Museum, Exhibition of French Paintings of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, March 6-April 6, 1929, cat. 12.

New York, Museum of Modern Art, Corot-Daumier: Eight Loan Exhibition, October 16-November 13, 1930, cat. 29 (ill.).

The Art Institute of Chicago, A Century of Progress Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture, June 1-November 1, 1933, cat. 231 (ill.).

The Art Institute of Chicago, A Century of Progress Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture, June 1-November 1, 1934, cat. 164.

New York, M. Knoedler & Co., Loan Exhibition of Figure and Landscape Paintings by J. B. C. Corot, November 12-December 1, 1934, cat. 20 (ill.).

Paris, Musée de l’Orangerie, Corot, 1936, cat. 82 (ill.).

Philadelphia Museum of Art, Corot, 1796-1875, 1946, cat. 49 (ill.).

The Art Institute of Chicago, Corot, 1796-1875: An Exhibition of his Paintings and Graphic Work, October 6-November 13, 1960, cat. 99 (ill.).

New York, Wildenstein Gallery, Loan Exhibition of Paintings and Drawings: Masterpieces: Memorial Exhibition for Adele Rosenwald Levy, April 6-May 7, 1961, cat. 32 (ill.).

Sarasota, Fla., Ringling Museum of Art, Palmer Family Collections: A Sections of Paintings and Drawings lent by the Family, by the Estate of Pauline K. Palmer and by the Art Institute of Chicago, Potter Palmer Collection, February 23-March 24, 1963, cat. 7 (ill.).

Edinburgh Festival Society, Corot: An Exhibition of Paintings, Drawings and Prints, August 14-September 12, 1965, cat. 81 (ill.).

New York, Wildenstein & Co., Loan Exhibition for the Benefit of the Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York, Inc: Romantic and Realists, April 7-May 7, 1966, cat. 15 (ill.).

New York, Wildenstein & Co., Loan Exhibition for the Benefit of the Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York, Inc: Corot, October 30-December 6, 1969, cat. 63 (ill.).

The Art Institute of Chicago, Art at the Time of the Centennial, June 19-August 9, 1976, extended to August 15, no cat.

Leningrad, Hermitage Museum, From Delacroix to Matisse: Great Paintings From the XIX century to the Beginning of the XXth century From Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Art Institute of Chicago, 1988, cat. 2 (ill.); traveled to Moscow, Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts.

Paris, Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, Corot 1796-1875, February 28-May 27, 1996, cat. 144 (ill.), traveled to Ottawa, National Gallery of Canada, June 21-September 22, 1996 and New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, October 22, 1996-January 19, 1997

Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Corot: Naturaleza, Emocion, Recuerdo, June 7–September 11, 2005, cat. 66.

Publication History

Alfred Robaut, L’oeuvre de Corot: catalogue raisonné et illustré, précédé de l’histoire de Corot et de ses oeuvres vol. 3 (Paris, 1905), no. 1431 (ill.) (reprinted Paris 1965).

Julius Meier-Graefe, Camille Corot (Munich 1913), p. 107.

August F. Jaccaci, “Figure Pieces of Corot in America: II,” Art in America 2, 1(1914), pp. 3 (ill.), 5.

The Art Institute of Chicago, Handbook of Sculpture, Architecture and Paintings (Chicago, 1922), no. 811.

The Art Institute of Chicago, Handbook of Sculpture, Architecture and Paintings (Chicago, 1923), no. 811.

“Corots in The Art Institute,” Bulletin of The Art Institute of Chicago 18, 8 (1924), p. 102 (ill.).

The Art Institute of Chicago, A Guide of the Paintings in the Permanent Collection (Chicago, 1925), p. 131, no. 811.

Julius Meier-Graefe, “Corots Wahlspruch,” Kunst und Künstler 28 (1929), p. 51 (ill.).

C. Bernheim de Villers, Corot: peintre de figures (Paris, 1930), no. 235 (ill.).

Julius Meier-Graefe, Corot (Berlin, 1930), pl. 107.

The Art Institute of Chicago, A Guide of the Paintings in the Permanent Collection (Chicago, 1932), p. 147, no. 22.410.

The Art Institute of Chicago, A Brief Illustrated Guide to the Collections (Chicago, 1935), p. 27 (ill.).

Germain Bazin, “Corot et son oeuvre,” L’Amour de l’art 17, 11 (February 1936), fig. 70.

Marie Delaroche-Vernet, “Salles de l’Orangerie: L’Exposition Corot,” Bulletin des Musées de France 7, 2 (February 1936), pp. 17 (ill.), 20.

Exposition Corot, exh. cat., introduction by Paul Jamot (Musée de Lyon, 1936), p. 18.

Alexander Watt, “Notes From Paris,” Apollo 23, 136 (April 1936), p. 225.

The Art Institute of Chicago, A Brief Illustrated Guide to the Collections (Chicago, 1941), p. 33 (ill.).

Lionello Venturi, Peintres Modernes: Goy, Constable-David, Ingres-Delacroix-Corot, Daumier-Courbet (Paris, 1941), pp. 166, 169, fig. 110, English edition, New York, 1947, pp. 159-60, fig. 110.

Germain Bazin, Corot (Paris, 1942), p. 107.

The Art Institute of Chicago, A Brief Illustrated Guide to the Collections (Chicago, 1945), p. 35 (ill.).

The Art Institute of Chicago, A Brief Illustrated Guide to the Collections (Chicago, 1948), pp. 32, 33 (ill.).

The Art Institute of Chicago, Masterpiece of the Month: Notes and Bibliography, January-December 1949, p. 122.

Germain Bazin, Corot (Paris, 1951), p. 112.

The Art Institute of Chicago, A Brief Guide to the Collections (Chicago, 1956), p. 33 (ill.), 35.

Daniel Baud-Bovy, Corot (Geneva, 1957), p. 245.

François Fosca, Corot: Sa vie et son oeuvre (Bruxelles, 1958), p. 138, ill.

The Art Institute of Chicago, Paintings in the Art Institute of Chicago: Catalogue of the Picture Collection (Chicago, 1961), pp. 86, 241 (ill.).

Jean Leymarie, French Painting: The Nineteenth Century, trans. by James Emmons (Cleveland, 1962), pp. 111 (ill.), 112.

Jean Leymarie, Corot: Biographical and Critical Study, trans. by Stuart Gilbert (Cleveland, 1966), p. 96.

Frederick A. Sweet, “Great Chicago Collectors,” Apollo 84 (September 1966), p. 191 (ill.).

Alfred Werner, “Corot: Serenity and Purity: Benefit at Wildenstein,” Arts Magazine 44 (November 1969), p. 33 (ill.).

John Maxon, The Art Institute of Chicago (New York, 1970), p. 69 (ill.).

Germain Bazin, Corot (Paris, 1973), p. 271.

The Art Institute of Chicago, 100 Masterpieces (Chicago, 1978), p. 95, no. 52.

Jean Leymarie, Corot (New York, 1979), pp. 130-31 (ill.).

John D. Morse, Paintings in North America: Over 3000 Masterpieces by 50 Great Artists (New York, 1979), p. 62.

Antje Zimmermann, “Studien zum Figurenbild bei Corot,” Ph. D. diss. (University of Cologne, 1986), pp. 152, 351, fig. 44.

Richard R. Brettell, French Salon Artists 1800-1900 (Chicago, 1987), pp. 92 (detail ill.), 93-94, 95 (ill.), 117.

Jean Selz, La vie et l’oeuvre de Camille Corot (Paris, 1988), ill.

James N. Wood and Katharine C. Lee, Master Paintings in The Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, 1988), p. 51 (ill.).

Jean Laymarie, Corot (Geneva, 1992), p. 154 (ill.).

Deborah Solomon, “The Gallery: The Mist of Memories,” The Wall Street Journal (October 25, 1996).

Jay A. Clarke, “The Abbot Jouveau, Curate of Coubron, 1875,” Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies 26, 1 (2000), p. 72.

Corot: Naturlaleza, Emoción, Recuerdo, (Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza), p. 265 (ill.), cat. 66.

Ownership History

M. Jules de La Rochenoire (1825-1899), Paris by 1875 [see Paris 1875]. Alexandre Dumas fils, Paris by 1882; his sale, Paris, Hôtel Drouot, February 16, 1882, lot 15, as La Rêverie, figure, bought in for 2,450 francs; his sale, Paris, Hôtel Drouot, May 12-13, 1892, lot 24, as La Rêverie, sold for 4,300 francs to Durand-Ruel, Paris [stock no. 2212, according to Paris, Ottawa, New York 1996]; sold for 20,000 francs to Mr. and Mrs. Potter Palmer, Chicago, on May 17, 1892; bequeathed to the Art Institute, 1922.




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