Bathers of the Borromean Isles

The Borromean Islands, on Lake Maggiore in Northern Italy, are famous for their isolation and natural beauty. In Corot’s painting, nude bathers frolic in the water, the gray-green branches of tall trees shading their bodies from the warm, golden sunlight. The artist painted this scene more than twenty years after his last visit to Italy, presenting the traditional theme of the nude in a landscape as a nostalgic memory—more poetic fiction than realistic fact.


The artist, sold to Martin; [Pierre-Firmin Martin, sold to Rouart]; Henri Rouart, Paris (by 1875-1912, his sale, Galerie Manzi-Joyant, Paris, 9 December 1912, no. 118, ill., sold to Knoedler); [Knoedler, Paris and New York, from 1912]; Cornelius Kingsley Garrison Billings, New York and Santa Barbara (until 1926, his sale, American Art Association, New York, 8 January 1926, no. 19, sold to Elverson); James Elverson Jr., Philadelphia (1926-30, his sale, American Art Association, New York, 30 January 1930, no. 34, ill. frontispiece, sold to Knoedler); [Knoedler, New York, sold to Clark, 1 February 1930, as Les Baigneuses des Iles Borromées]; Robert Sterling Clark (1930–55); Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 1955.

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot

French, 1796–1875

Bathers of the Borromean Isles

c. 1865–70

Oil on canvas

31 1/8 x 24 5/16 in. (79 x 61.7 cm) Frame: 42 1/4 x 33 7/8 x 3 1/2 in. (107.3 x 86 x 8.9 cm)

Acquired by Sterling and Francine Clark, 1930



Conservation View

This infrared detail of the painting demonstrates the artists repositioning of the figure in the center. The arm was originally higher and body closer to the branch.