Tuesday, 18 April 2017

unBrooknerian

Corot, Between Lake Geneva and the Alps, 1825
Private Collection
Corot, View of Rome from Monte Pincio, 1826
Minnesota
Corot, The Colosseum, seen through the Arcades
of the Basilica of Constantine, 1825
Musée du Louvre


A typical, that is to say an early, Corot will always present the spectator with less than the eye actually encompasses ... For Corot the mind is at the service of the eye, to modulate, to control, to unify and to present ... A strange dreamy, creamy placidity will be achieved, as if the site were viewed under an immobile and cloudless sky on an uneventful afternoon ... The result will be an image of extraordinary clarity and peace, strong enough to becalm the spectator into thinking that he too might find so tranquil a scene. He will not, for it does not exist in nature.
'The Eye of Innocence', 1980 TLS essay in Soundings

In Corot, Brookner identifies an essentially unBrooknerian artist, one whose youthful work is of greater interest than the work of his maturity. It is early Corot, those 'calmly lucent yet infernally hot scenes', that puzzles, that intrigues. 'He had', says Brookner, 'fifty more years of work in front of him, yet at no time does he venture more hardily or succeed more decisively. Thus Corot scholarship faces its biggest problem at the very outset of the painter's career: the easier part comes last of all.'

The date of the essay is of relevance: 1980, when the really interesting part of Anita Brookner's working life was just about to begin.

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