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“Mamma is a sculptor who improves upon Nature,” one day Camille said to the girls.” If a woman hasn’t a good form Madame Corot can supply her such amorous proportions that lovers will straightway fall at her feet.” But such jocular remarks were never made to the father– in his presence Camille was subdued and suspiciously respectful. The father had “disciplined” him–but had done nothing else.

Camille had a companion in Achille Michallon, son of the sculptor, Claude Michallon. Young Michallon modeled in clay and painted fairly well, and it was he who, no doubt, fired the mind of young Corot to follow an artistic career, to which Corot the elder was very much opposed.

So matters drifted and Camille Corot, aged twenty-six, was a flat failure, just as he had been for ten years. He hadn’t self-reliance enough to push out for himself, nor enough will to swing his parents into his way of thinking. He was as submissive as a child; and would not and could not do anything until he had gotten permission–thus much for discipline.

Finally, in desperation, his father said: “Camille, you are of an age when you should be at the head of a business; but since you refuse to avail yourself of your opportunities and become a merchant, why, then, I’ll settle upon you the sum of three hundred dollars a year for life and you can follow your own inclinations. But depend upon it, you shall have no more than I have named. I am done–now go and do what you want.”

The words are authentic, being taken down from Corot’s own lips; and they sound singularly like that remark made to Alfred Tennyson by his grandfather, “Here is a guinea for your poem, and depend upon it, this is the first and last money you will ever receive for poetry.”

Camille was so delighted to hear his father’s decision that he burst into tears and embraced the austere and stern-faced parent in the white cravat.

Straightway he would begin his artistic career, and having so announced his intention to the sewing-girls in an impromptu operatic aria, he took easel and paints and went down on the towpath to paint his first outdoor picture.

Soon the girls came trooping after, in order to see Monsieur Camille at his work. One girl, Mademoiselle Rose, stayed longer than the rest. Corot told of the incident in Eighteen Hundred Fifty-eight–a lapse of thirty years–and added: “I have not married–Mademoiselle Rose has not married–she is alive yet, and only last week was here to see me. Ah! what changes have taken place–I have that first picture I painted yet–it is the same picture and still shows the hour and the season, but Mademoiselle Rose and I, where are we?”

Turner and Corot trace back to the same artistic ancestor. It was Claude who first fired the heart of the barber’s boy, and it was Claude who diluted the zeal of Camille Corot for ribbons and haberdashery.

Turner stipulated in his will that a certain picture of his should hang on the walls of the National Gallery by the side of a “Claude Lorraine”; and today in the Louvre you can see, side by side, a “Corot” and a “Claude.” These men are strangely akin; yet, so far as I know, Corot never heard of Turner. However, he was powerfully influenced by Constable, the English painter, who was of the same age as Turner, and for a time, his one bitter rival.

Claude had been dead a hundred years before Constable, Turner or Corot was born. But time is an illusion; all souls are of one age, and in spirit these men were contemporaries and brothers. Claude, Corot and Turner never married–they were wedded to art. Constable ripened fast; he got his reward of golden guineas, and society caught him in its silken mesh. Success came faster than he was able to endure it, and he fell a victim to fatty degeneration of the cerebrum, and died of an acute attack of self-complacency.