The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
 Macbeth; paysage (Macbeth, Landscape)
  • Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot (1796 - 1875)
  • Macbeth; paysage (Macbeth, Landscape)
  • France
  • 1858 - 1859
  • Painting
  • Oil on canvas
  • Image size: 111 x 135.7 cm
    Object size: 149 x 173 x 15 cm
  • Signature: 'COROT'
  • P281
  • West Gallery III
Commentary
History
Further Reading
  • Corot painted the Macbeth scene in 1858-9 and exhibited it at the Paris Salon of 1859. It is a major example for his numerous, ambitious exhibition paintings the artist painted throughout his career. The subject is taken from Shakespeare’s Macbeth, I, iii. Macbeth and Banquo, generals of King Duncan meet three witches who foretell Macbeth’s rise to the throne of Scotland. This is one of only two subjects from Shakespeare painted by Corot, the other being 'Hamlet and the Gravedigger' (c.1873-4; Copenhagen, Ordrupgaard).
    Two drawings that are related to the painting are known, documenting Corot's work on the composition.
    According to Shakespeare's text, the scene is set at a "heath". Corot has chosen the edge of a forest where Macbeth and Banquo are almost hidden in the shade while the three witches stand out against the bright sky. Corot shows one of the witches pointing at the two men in order connect the two groups whereas in Shakespeare's text they put their fingers on their lips when first seen by the two men. The hazy, atmospheric rendering of the landscape is typical for Corot's works from that period.
    The yound Monet admired Corot's painting when seeing it at the Salon of 1859. When the Wallace Collection opened to the public as a museum in 1900 it was one of the most popular works in the Collection.