(b Paris, 17 July 1796; d Paris, 22 Feb. 1875). French painter, mainly of landscapes. His father was a textile merchant and his mother a fashionable dressmaker, and he was expected to follow them into the clothing business. In 1822, however, at the age of 26, he was allowed to give up his commercial career, to which he was ill suited, and devote himself to art, which was his passion; his parents gave him generous financial support, so he was able to follow his own interests without having to worry about earning a living. He studied briefly with Achille-Etna Michallon (who died soon after their association began) and then with Jean-Victor Bertin (1767–1842). Both his teachers had been pupils of Valenciennes, and through them Corot inherited the classical tradition of which Valenciennes had been the main upholder in the previous generation. However, he brought a personal poetry to this tradition and an unaffected naturalness reflecting the sketches from nature that formed the basis for his finished pictures; his work has a wonderful feeling of clarity and balance, but he seems to achieve this instinctively, without any striving for effect. He was based in Paris all his life but travelled a good deal in France and abroad, visiting Switzerland several times and also Italy (1825–8, 1834, and 1843), the Low Countries (1854), and England (1862). From 1827 Corot exhibited regularly at the Salon; his reputation grew steadily from the 1830s and by 1850 he was established as a major figure.