A museum in Paris, France, keeps a notebook of French painter Camille Corot (1796-1875). A page in this document is encrypted. Can somebody break this cryptogram?

Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot (1796-1875) was a French painter. He is mainly remembered for his landscape paintings in the neo-classical style. In addition, he created a considerable number of portraits. Corot was extremely productive and versatile. Even during his lifetime his paintings were in great demand, which made him a rich man.


To my knowledge, Camille Corot is not mentioned in the crypto history literature. As it seems, he was not interested in ciphers. However, there is one item that makes him interesting for crypto enthusiasts. The Musée Carnavalet in Paris, France, keeps a notebook of Corot that includes an encrypted page. Here’s a scan of it:


I am not aware of a solution of this cryptogram. Of course, it is not sure that this sequence of numbers is really an encryption – it might as well be a note referring to sums of money or other numbers. However, the museum website calls it “inscriptions et chiffres”, which means that they assume it’s a cipher.

If this note is an encryption, Corot might have used a codebook (or a nomenclator) to create it. Cryptograms of this kind are usually hard to break, unless the codebook used is known.

Can a reader find out more about the Corot cryptogram? Can somebody figure out the cleartext?

Further reading: Who can break this enciphered letter written by Albrecht von Wallenstein?

Kommentare (5)

  1. #1 Esme
    18. Oktober 2016

    Inscriptions et chiffres bedeutet einfach nur “Beschriftung und Zahlen”. Chiffres heißt einfach Zahlen, nichts Verschlüsseltes.

  2. #2 Norbert
    18. Oktober 2016

    Can anyone read the words at the top of the page? Maybe these could help in deciding whether the numbers are a cipher/code or not. At first sight, I would tend to consider them as pure numbers, as well as I would translate “inscriptions et chiffres” harmlessly as “inscriptions and numbers”.

  3. #3 Klaus Schmeh
    18. Oktober 2016

    >Chiffres heißt einfach Zahlen, nichts Verschlüsseltes.
    Danke für den Hinweis. “chiffre” gibt es auch in der Bedeutung “Code” oder “Geheimschrift”, aber hier ist wohl doch “Zahl” gemeint.

  4. #4 Thomas
    19. Oktober 2016

    I can read nothing but “Norvege … … …mand sepulture
    “glaize” – the painter Auguste Glaize?

  5. #5 Ellie Velinska
    19. Oktober 2016

    It looks like a list for shopping from a catalog – each number could correspond to number in the catalogue for different colors, brushes, pencils,glazes etc.