La Cigale (The Grasshopper)
Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot (French, 1796-1875)
On View

At the end of his life, Corot turned to figure paintings, most often portraying women posed with books or musical instruments in imaginary landscapes. Despite its wooded backdrop, this picture was plainly made in the artist’s studio; the curving outline of a chair back, painted over with greenery, is just visible above the model’s shoulder at right. Pictures of women holding musical instruments and titled La Cigale (The Grasshopper) were common in late-nineteenth-century France. Drawn from La Fontaine’s fable The Grasshopper and the Ant, the title alludes to the fate of one who (like a grasshopper) “sings all summer” instead of preparing (like an ant) for the hardships of winter. By Corot’s time, La Cigale had become a metaphor for the beautiful bohème: one who lives with no thought for the future.


  • Artist Name: Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot (French, 1796-1875)
  • Title: La Cigale (The Grasshopper)
  • Date: 1865-1875
  • Medium: Oil on panel
  • Dimensions: 18-1/4 x 14-5/8 in. (46.4 x 37.2 cm)
  • Credit Line: Norton Simon Art Foundation
  • Accession Number: M.1975.13.1.P
  • Copyright: © Norton Simon Art Foundation

Object Information

Robaut says “Vente X, 1877 for Ff 1,200" to;
Victor Desfossés by 1889 (sale, Paris, 26 April 1899, no. 18, for Ff 10,100, to);
[Durand-Ruel et Cie, Paris and New York, sold 5 May 1926 to];
Carl Weeks, Des Moines, Iowa (sale, New York, Sotheby’s, 26 October 1967, lot 18, to);
Mr. and Mrs. Norton Simon, Los Angeles, as part of divorce settlement, 1970, to;
Lucille Ellis Simon, Los Angeles;
[Paul Rosenberg & Co., New York, sold 14 August 1975 to];
Norton Simon Art Foundation.


  • Los Angeles, Dalzell Hatfield Galleries, 1943-02-22 to 1943-03-15

[on loan]

  • Phoenix, Phoenix Art Museum, 1975-08-08 to 1975-12-01

Figures de Corot

  • Paris, Louvre, 1962-06 to 1962-09

Corot 1796-1875: An Exhibition of his Paintings and Graphic Works

  • Art Institute of Chicago, 1960-10-06 to 1960-11-13

Loan Exhibition of Paintings by J.B.C. Corot (1796-1875)

  • New York, Paul Rosenberg & Co., 1956-11-05 to 1956-12-01

Communication Art from Midwest Collections

  • Des Moines Art Center, 1955 to

Centennial Exhibition

  • Coe College, 1952 to

The Beginnings of Modern Painting, France 1800-1910

  • Joslyn Art Museum, 1951-10-04 to 1951-11-04

Corot 1796-1875

  • Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1946-05-11 to 1946-06-16

Origins of Modern Art

  • Arts Club of Chicago, 1940-04-02 to 1940-04-30

Exhibition of French Masters from Courbet to Seurat

  • New York, Jacques Seligmann & Co. Inc., 1937-03-22 to 1937-04-17

Barbizon Exhibition

  • Findlay Galleries, 1937 to

A Survey of French Painting

  • Pittsburgh, Carnegie Institute, 1936-04-02 to 1936-05-14

Exhibition of Portraits and Early Landscapes by J.B.C. Corot

  • Smith College Museum of Art, 1934-11-12 to 1934-12-09

Corot, Daumier: Eighth Loan Exhibition

  • Museum of Modern Art (New York, NY), 1930-10-16 to 1930-11-23

Exposition organisée au profit du monument du centenaire de Corot: Catalogue des chefs-d'oeuvre pretés par les musees de l'état les grandes collections de France et de l'étranger

  • Paris, Palais Galliera, 1895-05 to 1895-06

[on loan]

  • California Palace of the Legion of Honor, 1976-01-06 to

Expositon centennale de l'art français (Exposition Universelle)

  • Paris, Palais du Champ de Mars, Galerie des Beaux-Arts, 1889 to 1889

Masters of Art from 1790 to 1950

  • Los Angeles County Fair Association, 1950-09-15 to 1950-10-01

A Century of Progress

  • Art Institute of Chicago, 1933-06-01 to 1933-11-01

Images of the Landscape, Barbizon and Impressionist Paintings from the Permanent Collection

  • Norton Simon Museum, 1987-07-02 to 1989-10-29

Six Centuries of Portraiture from the Permanent Collection

  • Norton Simon Museum, 1989-11-02 to 1990-12-16

Reinstallation of South Wing

  • Norton Simon Museum, 1993-10-07 to 1995-08-13
  • The Burlington Magazine, p. 28
  • Robaut, Alfred, L'Oeuvre de Corot: Catalogue raisonné et illustré, 1905, no. 1566
  • Bernheim de Villers, Corot: Peintre de figures, 1930, no. 266
  • Art at Auction 1967-68, 1968, pp. 120-121
  • New York Times, 1975, p. 43
  • Morse, John D., Old Master Paintings in North America, 1979, p. 62
  • Norton, Thomas E., 100 Years of Collecting in America: The Story of Sotheby Parke-Bernet, 1984, pp. 186-187
  • Masterpieces from the Norton Simon Museum, 1989, p. 114
  • Brettell, Richard R. and Stephen F. Eisenman, Nineteenth-Century Art in the Norton Simon Museum, volume 1, 2006,
  • Campbell, Sara, Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best, 2010, cat. 390 p. 292
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Additional Artwork by Artist

Farm Building at Bois-Guillaume, near Rouen Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot c. 1823-1824
Rebecca at the Well Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot 1838-1839
Site in Italy Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot 1839

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