The Roman Forum

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Behold the wrecks of what a great nation once dedicated to the abstractions of the mind! Rome is a city, as it were, of the dead, or rather of those who cannot die, and who survive the puny generations which inhabit and pass over the spot which they have made sacred to eternity.

—Percy Shelley, Letters in Complete Works, X, 14

Corot shared certain concerns, such as the apparently casual cropping of his image and his manipulation of contrast, with early photographers. Through his careful study of the fall of light across each faceted surface, he effected a remarkable fusion of solid structure and intangible, atmospheric space. The Arch of Constantine anchors the left side of this composition. The oblique view casts into bold relief the arch’s projecting elements, especially the columns and Attic statues, which are brilliantly silhouetted. Balancing the arch on the right side are the massive ruins of the Temple of Venus and Rome.

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, The Arch of Constantine and the Forum, 1843. The Frick Collection, New York, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Eugene Victor Thaw

Location photography by John Pinto