The far distance in its simple contour and harmony fades into the sky, through an atmosphere of mist and ether. The flowers raise their heads, the birds flit to and fro. A peasant riding a white horse disappears down the narrow path. And the artist? He paints!
-Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot in a letter to a friend
Before I knew Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot, I knew a mournful young lady in a pale pink dress. If you are not familiar with him, I hope to introduce you to a master artist in a similar way. “Springtime of Life” is a Romance painting of breathless beauty that very luckily (for me) resides in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Corot, a French landscape painter of the 19th century, draws the viewer into a world of “mist and ether” that evokes a somber and delicate mood. To view the world through Corot’s eyes is to view beauty without taking it lightly or cheaply; rather, Corot entraps the onlookers with a dramatic sobriety that leaves them with a wistful desire to continue into the world of his canvas. This lingering feeling hit me the first time I viewed “Springtime of Life” and even now, after years of revisiting it, I feel the same way.
I love this painting so much, that I have created a pen and ink re-imagining of it. It is now for sale in my Etsy Shop.