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Orpheus Greeting the Dawn (Orphée salue la lumière) or Hymn to the Sun (L'Hymne au soleil)

Orpheus Greeting the Dawn (Orphée salue la lumière) or Hymn to the Sun (L'Hymne au soleil)

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot was one of France’s most popular nineteenth-century artists. He primarily painted landscapes, often working outdoors, a practice artists were just beginning to adopt. Corot’s early works, associated with the Barbizon School, are humble and realistic landscapes. However, this painting represents his later work, which is characterized by idyllic scenes enlivened by graceful, often allegorical, figures. In these later compositions Corot evokes a tranquil mood, using a soft palette and brushwork. In this painting, the dawn light reveals a small temple nestled in the hillside. The figure is Orpheus, son of Apollo and the muse Calliope, the greatest musician and poet in Greek mythology. He raises his arms to welcome the new day, having returned from Hades where he had attempted, albeit unsuccessfully, to rescue his wife, Eurydice. This work is one of two decorative paintings commissioned for the Paris townhouse of Russian Prince Paul Demidoff. Its companion painting, or pendant, The Sleep of Diana or Night, is currently in a private collection. These two works are distinctive as the only paintings Corot ever executed for the decoration of a private residence.
Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot
(French, 1796 - 1875)
Orpheus Greeting the Dawn (Orphée salue la lumière) or Hymn to the Sun (L'Hymne au soleil)
Oil on canvas
78 3/4 x 54 in. Overall
Gift in memory of Earl William and Eugenia Brandt Quirk, Class of 1910, by their children (E. James Quirk, Catherine Jean Quirk and Lillian Quirk Conley)
Accession No.


1865, Paul Demidoff (Paris, France*); 3 February 1868, sold by auction (lot 11) to Paul Durand-Ruel (Paris, France); 8 April 1875, Liebig and Fremyn Sale (lot 9) (Paris, France); ca. 1875, purchased by Daniel Cottier (New York, NY); 1891, transferred by estate of Daniel Cottier (New York, NY) to Durand-Ruel Gallery (Paris, France); 27-28 May 1892, sold in Cottier Sale at Durand-Ruel Gallery (Paris, France) to Paul Durand-Ruel (Paris, France) on behalf of Bertha Honore Potter Palmer (Chicago, IL); 1922, bequeathed by Bertha Honore Potter Palmer (Chicago, IL) to the Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, IL); 2 March 1944, sold by Art Institute of Chicago via Park Bernet Galleries (lot 47) (New York, NY); 1944, sold by Vose Galleries (stock no. 13900) (Boston, MA) to Earl William Quirk (Watertown, WI); 1960, passed through inheritance by Earl William Quirk to his wife, Eugenia Brandt Quirk (Watertown, WI); 1979, passed through inheritance by Eugenia Brandt Quirk to her children, E. James Quirk, Catherine Jean Quirk, and Lillian Quirk Conley; 1981, gifted to the Elvehjem Museum of Art [now called Chazen Museum of Art]. *Paul Demidoff was known to have several residences in Russia and France, the object file indicates that the painting was specifically installed in his Paris townhouse. [Last researched by Chazen staff 1 July 2021]

  • Elvehjem Art Center. "Inaugural Exhibition: 19th & 20th Century Art from Collections of Alumni & Friends." Madison, WI: Regents of the University of Wisconsin, 1970. p. 23, no. 2
  • O'Brien, Maureen C. "In Support of Liberty : European Paintings At the 1883 Pedestal Fund Art Loan Exhibition." Southampton, N.Y.: Parrish Art Museum, 1986. pl. VI
  • Robaut, Alfred. "L'oeuvre de Corot." catalogue raisonné par Étienne Moreau-Nélaton. Paris, 1965. no. 1634
  • Wissman, Fronia E. "Corot's 'Hymn to the Sun'." Elvehjem Museum of Art Bulletin 1983-1984. Elvehjem Museum of Art (1984): 9-17. pp. 9-17
  • Elvehjem Museum of Art. "Handbook of the Collection." Elvehjem Museum of Art, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Madison, 1990. p. viii, no. 90
  • Elvehjem Museum of Art. "Bulletin 1981-1983." Madison: Elvehjem Museum of Art, 1983. p. 6
  • Salzburger Festspiele 2010, "Orfeo ed Euridice" [opera program]. Salzburg, Austria: Salzburger Festspielfonds, 2010. p. 28
  • Elvehjem Museum of Art. "Bulletin/Annual Report 1989-1991." Madison: Elvehjem Museum of Art, 1991. p. 57
  • Elvehjem Museum of Art. "Bulletin 1983-1984." Madison: Elvehjem Museum of Art, 1984. p. 10
  • Elvehjem Museum of Art. "Artscene." Vol. 10, No. 3, June /July/ August 1994. p. 6
  • Baker, D. Frederick, "A University Collects: The Chazen Museum of Art at the University of Wisconsin," in Antiques & Fine Art Magazine (Autumn/Winter 2013) vol. XII, issue 6 :184-193. p. 190, no. 10
  • Coleman, Patrick, ed.. "The Art of Music." San Diego Museum of Art, in association with Yale University Press, 2015. p. 126, no. 106
  • Kinchin, Juliet, Hilary Macartney, and David Robertson. "Cottier's in context : Daniel Cottier, William Leiper and Dowanhill Church, Glasgow." Edinburgh : Historic Scotland, 2011. p. 49, no. 39; pl. IX
  • Durand-Ruel, Paul-Louis and Flavie Durand-Ruel. "Paul Durand-Ruel: Memoirs of the First Impressionist Art Dealer (1831-1922)." Paris: Flammarion, 2014. pp. 57, 109, 125, 127, 253, 263, 267, 309
  • The Century Magazine. June, 1889.
  • Gazette des Beaux-Arts, Vol II (1873): 429. p. 429
  • The Studio. Winter 1902-03.
  • Hamelm, M. "Corot en son oeuvre." Vol II. 1905. p. 44
  • Robaut, Alfred. "L'Art." October 12, 1882.
  • Roger-Miles, L. "Album classique des chefs-d'oeuvre de Corot." 1895. pl. 38
  • Gensel, W. "Corot and Troyon." Bielefeld & Leipzig, 1906. p. 33, pl. 24
  • Art Institute of Chicago. "Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago." Vol. XVI, no. 3 (1992): 47.
  • Meier-Graefe, Julius. "Corot." Berlin: Bruno Cassirer and Klinkhardt & Biermann, 1930. p. 66
  • Venturi, L. "Les Archives de l'impressionnisme." Vol. II (1939): 167-168.
  • Bazin, Germain. "Corot." Paris: Éditions Pierre Tisné, 1951. p. 112
  • Hour, M. "Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot." New York, 1977. p. 26
  • Burty, Phillipe. "Exposition de l'oeuvre de Corot à l'Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts." Paris: Typographie Jules-Juteau et Fils, 1875. p. 35, no. 13
  • National Academy of Design. "The Pedestal Fund Art Loan Exhibition." New York: National Academy of Design, 1883. cat. no. 92
  • Chu, Petra ten-Doesschate and Max Donnelly, with Andrew Montana and Suzanne Veldink. "Daniel Cottier: Designer, Decorator, Dealer." London: Yale University Press, Paul Mellon Centre for British Art, 2021. pp. 81, 126-128, 131-132, 141, 208, no. 115

  • Inaugural Exhibition: 19th & 20th Cen. Art from Collection of Alumni & Friends: Elvehjem Art Center, 9/11/1970–11/8/1970
  • Wisconsin Collects, 1964: Milwaukee Art Center, 9/24/1964–10/25/1964
  • Pedestal Fund Art Loan Exhibition: National Academy of Design, New York, 12/3/1883–12/31/1883
  • World Exposition 1873 Vienna (Weltastellung 1873 Wien): World Exposition Vienna, 5/1/1873–10/31/1873
  • Exposition 1875: L'Ecole des Beaux Arts, Paris
  • Welt-Austellung, 1873: Rotunda, Vienna
  • Exposition de l'oeuvre de Corot, 1875: L'ecole des beaux-arts, Paris

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