Camille Corot (French, 1796–1875)
Oil on canvas; 21 5/8 x 31 1/2 in. (54.9 x 80 cm)
Signed (lower right): COROT
Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Collection, Bequest of Catharine Lorillard Wolfe, 1887 (87.15.141)
By the time Corot sent this small canvas and one other to the 1870 Salon, he had long enjoyed the privilege of exhibiting his entries without submitting them to the jury. Secure in his reputation, he showed modest works, as if to reassure a nation about to enter into war with Prussia that all was well at Ville-d'Avray—and also that all was well in the studio.
Corot depicted the villas at the far side of the large pond at Ville-d'Avray, where he had inherited property from his parents. It is a scene he painted frequently, but each time he took certain liberties, the tree in the foreground changing most often. Because of the silhouette of branches against the pewter sky, Corot's biographer Alfred Robaut called this work "the spider's web." Initially, Corot included a child to the right of the peasant woman in the foreground.