The writer Théophile Thoré repeated his habitual criticism of Corot in 1865, the date of this picture: "Corot almost never made anything besides the same one landscape, but it is good." The landscape here was conceived by Corot in his studio from stock elements that he knew by heart: the cluster of silvery trees, the body of leaden water, the peasant figures and boatman, the distant tower. Like his idol Claude Lorrain, Corot could generate a landscape and a mood through the power of his imagination.
Inscription: Signed (lower left): C. COROT
Société Artésienne des Amis des Arts (until 1866; offered as a prize in a lottery and won by Ledieu); Philippe Ledieu, France (from 1866); Robert Graham Dun, New York (until d. 1900; life interest to his widow, Mary D. Bradford Dun, 1900–d. 1910)
East Hampton, N.Y. Guild Hall. "Trees in Art," July 18–August 13, 1957, no. 11.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Barbizon: French Landscapes of the Nineteenth Century," February 4–May 10, 1992, no catalogue.
Albany. New York State Museum. "French Painters of Nature; The Barbizon School: Landscapes from The Metropolitan Museum of Art," May 22–August 22, 2004, no catalogue.
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. "The Masterpieces of French Painting from The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1800–1920," February 4–May 6, 2007, no. 14.
Berlin. Neue Nationalgalerie. "Französische Meisterwerke des 19. Jahrhunderts aus dem Metropolitan Museum of Art," June 1–October 7, 2007, unnumbered cat.
Gustave Geffroy in "Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot." Corot and Millet. Ed. Charles Holme. New York, 1903, p. cxxxii, notes that Dunn [sic] paid Fr 125,000 for this painting.
Alfred Robaut. L'Œuvre de Corot: Catalogue raisonné et illustré. [reprint 1965]. Paris, 1905, vol. 3, pp. 170–71, no. 1700, ill., calls it "La Rivière à la tour lointaine" and dates it 1865; states that the Société Artésienne bought it for their lottery in 1866 where it was won by Ledieu.
B[ryson]. B[urroughs]. "Recent Accessions." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 6 (April 1911), pp. 98–99, ill.
B[ryson]. B[urroughs]. "Modern Paintings in the Altman Bequest." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 9 (December 1914), p. 252, calls it "River Scene" and notes its similarity to Corot's "The Ferryman" (MMA 14.40.811).
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, pp. 58–59, ill., call it "A River with a Distant Tower" and note that the flat-roofed houses are reminiscent of Corot's trip to Italy.
Gary Tinterow inThe Masterpieces of French Painting from The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1800–1920. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. New York, 2007, pp. 34, 196, no. 14, ill. (color and black and white).
According to Robaut (1905), this painting was engraved by Lucien Gautier.