Like many of the landscapes Corot painted at the end of his career, The Ferryman exemplifies the timeless, idyllic quality that contemporary critics appreciated in his work.
Inscription: Signed (lower right): COROT
Bertin, Paris (until 1892; ?his sale, M. X. et Mme F., Hôtel Drouot, Paris, May 11, 1892, no. 6, as "Le Passeur," for Fr 4,900 to Arnold and Tripp); [Arnold and Tripp, Paris, from 1892]; Benjamin Altman, New York (until d. 1913)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Landscape Paintings," May 14–September 30, 1934, no. 36.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Taste of the Seventies," April 2–September 10, 1946, no. 78.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Barbizon: French Landscapes of the Nineteenth Century," February 4–May 10, 1992, no catalogue.
Alfred Robaut. L'Œuvre de Corot: Catalogue raisonné et illustré. [reprint 1965]. Paris, 1905, vol. 3, pp. 180–81, no. 1728, ill., calls it "Passeur atterrissant avec deux paysannes dans sa barque" and dates it about 1865; states that it sold in 1892 for Fr 49,000 [sic].
B[ryson]. B[urroughs]. "Modern Paintings in the Altman Bequest." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 9 (December 1914), p. 252, ill., notes its similarity to Corot's "River with a Distant Tower" (MMA 11.45.4).
François Monod. "La Galerie Altman au Metropolitan Museum de New-York (2e article)." Gazette des beaux-arts, 5th ser., 8 (November 1923), p. 312 n. 1, places it in Corot's last period.
Charles Sterling and Margaretta M. Salinger. French Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 2, XIX Century. New York, 1966, p. 58, ill., note that "Corot seems to have borrowed from Bonington the practice of animating a landscape with a note of brilliant color".