This is a very nice little book that addresses the origins of 19th century French Landscape painting -- that is, the origins of Camille Corot. A catalogue of an exhibit put on at Mount Holyoke College in 2004, this volume is really about the confrontation between two paintings: Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes' Classical Greek Landscape with Girls Sacrificing Their Hair to Diana on the Bank of a River (1790) - first picture; and Charles-François Daubigny's The Water's Edge: Optevoz (1856) - second painting. Valenciennes continues and culminated the tradition deriving from Poussin and Claude Lorrain - it was Valencienne who was the teacher of the men who taught Corot; who established the Prix de Rome for historical landscape painting (first won by Achille-Etna Michallon, Corot's first great teacher, who died tragically young. Daubigny, on the other hand, with his shift away from the Neoclassical to a far greater naturalism, with a looser brush, was a friend and contemporary of Corot, and is classed among the Barbizon painters.
The volume contains three short essays - the first is a marvelous and brief discussion of the origins of landscape painting from the early Renaissance onwards. The second, on Valenciennes, is dull; the third on Daubigny is better. The prints themselves are only about half in color, and many are too small to allow for full appreciation -- and, given that the book is not cheap, that's why I've given it only 4 stars.