A look back on Corot's long career as the most successful landscape painter of his generation reveals an artist of many different personalities; Corot's style changed so dramatically over the years that he could accurately be classified not as one, but as several different painters. He is mainly remembered for his plein air studies of Italy from the 1820s, his traditional "Poussinesque" Salon submissions from the 1850s and the silvery souvenirs of the 1860s and 1870s. The period from the early 1830s until the late 1840s is not as well documented, and yet this twenty year span included many of Corot's most beautiful and innovative compositions. The paintings from this period reveal that he found subject matter not only in France - from the Morvan to Barbizon - but also in Italy and Switzerland. The present painting was most likely painted during Corot's 1842 trip to Switzerland, and represents Mornex, a specific location that Corot observed first-hand. A drawing of a similar setting in the Haute-Savoie dated 1842 (Robaut, no. 2737) confirms the location and date of the present painting.
The diagonal line of the furrowed earth of the Salève at Mornex emphasizes the recession of the hillside. In the foreground, thick green grass, the field of wild flowers and the reflections of the sun give evidence that it is a warm summer day. This is confirmed by the band of trees in the middle ground – all heavy with the foliage of summer. In the far off distance a range of snow-capped mountains are silhouetted against a blue sky. The three children in the lower right rank among Corot's most appealing figure groups. Their inclusion elevates the painting to something more than a pure landscape, and such immediacy (especially the young girl who looks directly at the viewer) supports that this was a scene Corot observed first hand during his visit to Mornex.
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