Marietta posed for Corot in the studio of Achille Benouville during the painter's third and last stay in Rome. With a transparent frottis that leaves the initial pencil lines showing, the work is a subtle combination of pink ochre, brown, white and pale green.
This bareness contributes to the unique character of this study, which is evidence of the diversity of Corot’s pictorial resources.
The young Corot studied painting with the neo-classical landscape artists Achille Michallon and Jean-Victor Bertin. With the financial help of his parents, traders in Paris, he was able to travel freely. He therefore travelled across France, stayed in Italy three times, and discovered Switzerland, the Netherlands and England. He was one of the first outdoor artists to work in the forest of Fontainebleau.
This Parisian lived for part of the year in Ville-d’Avray, where he made the pond by his family home famous. Baudelaire, Gautier and Champfleury defended this original artist who combined realism and poetic invention in a totally new way. Soon Corot broadened his initial vocation to be a landscape painter and placed more importance on the figure, with women becoming one of the central themes of his work in the 1860. The nude studies he painted in his studio were used in elegiac compositions.
The publication in 1905 of the Catalogue raisonné de Corot by Alfred Robaut developed the understanding of the work of the landscape artist, while revealing the importance of the figure painter, of whom Degas said, “He is always on top, he thinks of everything”.