Comparisons between Naturalist and Impressionist - 1

Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot
Morning, The Dance of the Nymphs
1850 - 1851 Salon
Mark Harden Artchive

Edgar Degas
Group of Dancers
19th - 20th century


Corot took a narrative approach when he painted native people in forest scenes. This painting is an example of the diffused light and softly painted figures of his experimental open air work. This painting shows how Corot focused on the overall effect of natural light and shade. His figures were painted small so that they did not take away from his lighting effects. The focal point of this painting is the expression of light rather than detailed subject matter. However, the nymphs are painted as if they were performing in a play. The viewer looks at this painting from a wide angle perspective.
Corot was trained in the classical landscape tradition. Corot added white to his colors to bring up the luminosity of natural light. His methods of paintings were very similar of the Academy.

Degas painted as if he were looking through the lens of a camera. The composition of this painting is slightly similar and opposite to the Danse des Nymphes. The ballet dancers were captured in a moment of movement and performance. The nymphs in Corot's painting are illustrated as looking outward. Degas's ballet dancers are performing in a scene of color. The ballet dancers are the focal point of the painting, where color and light fill the scene with sparkle and innovation. The viewer looks at this painting from a juxtaposed vanishing point. Degas was a modern contemporary painter with an impressionist style.

Jean-Francois Millet,
L'Angelus, 1857 - 1859

Edgar Degas
The Cotton Exchange in New Orleans, 1873

The L'Angelus was viewed as a classical example of Millet's peasant paintings. This painting portrayed the working class of the countryside. In 1889, this painting sold for a record price of 553,000 francs, 40 years after Millet's death. Millet studied the rural realism in contrast to Degas. Milled used a darker palette, yet the brush work and colors were approaching the Impressionists' style.

Degas focuses here on the middle class as subjects. Here Degas captured a day at the Cotton Exchange, a depiction of an office. Degas did not like to work in the open air. Even his outdoor scenes were created in his studio. Degas and Millet both portray people at work, although Degas has them busy with the news, while in Millet's work, they are praying.