Property from a French Private Collection
THE CRYSTAL PALACE, LONDON
oil on canvas
unframed: 22.5 by 36.5cm., 8¾ by 14¼in.
framed: 35 by 49cm., 13¾ by 19in.
The authenticity of this work has been confirmed by Martin Dieterle and Claire Lebeau.
Please note: Condition 11 of the Conditions of Business for Buyers (Online Only) is not applicable to this lot.
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The canvas has an old relining.
Under close inspection there are some localised areas of minor craquelure, primarily in the thicker pigments of the sky.
Ultra-violet light reveals some minor signs of retouching, notably spots along the upper framing edge, and a few other scattered spots.
This painting is in good condition, and its appearance could be further enhanced with a professional surface clean.
The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance only. Any reference to condition in the condition report for the lot does not amount to a full description of condition. The images of the lot form part of the condition report for the lot. Certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot. In particular, the online images may represent colors and shades which are different to the lot's actual color and shades. The condition report for the lot may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the condition report for the lot or shown in the online images of the lot. The condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation. The condition report is a statement of opinion only. For that reason, the condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS ONLINE CONDITION REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE/BUSINESS APPLICABLE TO THE RESPECTIVE SALE.
Mlle X (a gift from the artist)
Wildenstein, Paris (by 1950)
Jacques Guerlain, Paris (purchased from the above in April 1951; by descent until 1971. Guerlain, 1874-1963, was a noted French perfumer, inventor of L’Heure bleue and art collector of work by Corot and the Impressionists, notably La Pie by Claude Monet which now hangs in the Musée d’Orsay)
Acquired by the grandfather of the present owner; thence by descent
Alfred Robaut, L'oeuvre de Corot, Paris, 1905, vol. III, pp. 30-31, no. 1325, catalogued & illustrated (erroneously as Londres, Le palais de Cristal vu de Windsor)
Jean Selz, Camille Corot: un rêveur solitaire, 1796-1875
, Courbevoie, 1996, p. 140, cited (erroneously as Le palais de Cristal vu de Windsor)
London, Wildenstein Galleries, A Loan Exhibition of the School of 1830 in France, 1950, no. 23
Paris, Galerie Hector Brame, Corot, June-July 1957
Paris, Galerie Schmit, Corot, May-June 1971, no. 46 (as Palais de cristal)
Paris, Musée de l'Orangerie,
Hommage à Corot: peintures et dessins des collections françaises, 1975, no. 56 (as Londres, le palais de cristal)
This view of the Crystal Palace, painted shortly after its relocation from Hyde Park to Sydenham Hill, is one of just three recorded oils Corot painted during his only trip to London in 1862, the other two being Londres, vu de loin, des bords de la Tamise, and Richmond près Londres (fig. 1).
Built to house the Great Exhibition of 1851 in Hyde Park, the Crystal Palace, designed by Sir Joseph Paxton, was an engineering marvel of glass and iron which occupied seven hectares of ground. The main nave of this impressive structure was 563 metres long and 124 metres wide. It was moved and rebuilt in Sydenham with considerable enlargements between 1852 and 1854, where it survived until destroyed by fire in 1936 (fig. 2).
However, in Corot’s light-filled view the Crystal Palace is largely eclipsed by the majestic trees and shrubs in the foreground, making the painting more of an idyllic landscape than an architectural study. The interjection of the modern world on a traditional landscape of course anticipates Manet and the Impressionists, whose verdant scenes were often punctuated by a factory chimney here or a modern railway bridge there, and express at once a longing for the past and an acceptance of the present.
Of the Impressionists, Camille Pissarro certainly owed the most to Corot, even describing himself as the latter’s pupil. When Pissarro fled France for England in the aftermath of the Franco-Prussian war, he settled in Norwood, south London and, following in Corot’s footsteps, made his own series of paintings of the streets around the Crystal Palace (fig. 3). In them, he took Corot’s nod to modernity a stage further, capturing the hustle and bustle of suburbanisation head on.