The Shepherd’s Star
In Corot’s pictorial creations, music, opera and theatre play a role almost as important as that played by nature. All of his work is conditioned by the bringing together of these four components and his landscapes are often nothing other than reminiscence of an evening at Les Italiens or at Le Lyrique. Such is the case of The Shepherd’s Star, a lyrical landscape and nostalgic poem if ever there was one, a work in which the painter associates the memory of Malibran, the famous opera singer, and of Musset, the illustrious poet. As Daniel Baud-Bovy, Corot’s biographer, recounts, on hearing a few lines by Musset set to music, (“Pale star of even, on thy distant quest / Lifting thy radiant brow from twilight's veil”), Corot was reminded of the stanzas the poet had dedicated to the great singer and announced his intention to pay tribute to them. For this double painted tribute, Corot uses a study previously done in the Limousin area and inserts into this landscape a woman draped in Antique fashion, invoking the evening star.
Present at the exhibition by the Toulousan Artistic Union (l'Union artistique de Toulouse) in 1864, the piece was acquired there by the city.