The young Camille Corot’s three-year study trip to Italy 1825–28 would decisively influence his development as a landscape artist. In Rome he became acquainted with an international community of artists who emphasized the immediacy of capturing nature: whereas previous landscape artists usually relied on studies done in pen and pencil, these artists wanted instead to use oil to capture the forms of the landscape. In quickly executed studies, they sought to depict the mobile, mutable elements found in nature, such as lighting, the atmosphere, and the constant flux of running water.
After first working in Rome and the Roman Campagna, Corot left the Eternal City in the summer of 1826 and travelled north to Umbria, where he studied such famous landmarks as the Cascata delle Marmore at Terni. The area was a must-see for any landscape painter at the time; in fact, the Norwegian painter Jacob Munch had painted in the vicinity already in 1812, while his compatriot Johan Christian Dahl had studied the very same waterfall on his Italian journey in the early 1820s. Corot himself travelled on the upper side of the waterfall and followed the river a distance to the west, to where the plenteous Velino gushes out from Lake Papigno on its way toward the falls.
Camille Corot was in the habit of retaining his own studies. Immediately before his death, he sold The Velino Above the Cascade of Terni to the engineer Henri Rouart (1833–1912), who had also been Corot’s student. Rouart was a passionate art collector whose collection included around fifty of his old teacher’s paintings. After Rouart’s death, The Velino Above the Cascade of Terni found its way to various private collections before the National Museum acquired this small study of nature.
Text: Nils Messel
From "Highlights. Art from Antiquity to 1945", Nasjonalmuseet 2014, ISBN 978-82-8154-088-0