Barbizon school

1830 - 1870

Group of French painters associated with the Forest of Fontainebleau near Paris and especially with the village of Barbizon. The main members of this informal group were Narcisse Diaz, Jules Dupré, Théodore Rousseau, Constant Troyon and Jean-François Millet; they formed a recognizable school from the early 1830s to the 1870s. Mainly concerned with landscape, they had little interest in the classical conventions of Claude and Poussin and were more influenced by Dutch landscape painting of the 17th century and by the works of John Constable, whose The Haywain (1821; London, N.G.) had been exhibited at the Salon of 1824. Because their work did not change radically over the decades, the Barbizon painters have often been treated mainly as a transitional generation, helping to bridge the gap between classical landscape painting of the late 18th century and the early 19th and Impressionism. However, as the first generation of French landscape painters to focus truly on nature, they have an importance and originality of their own. Romantic in their desire to break with conventions, their anti-urban sentiment and, above all, their lyrical appreciation of nature, they were Realist in their avoidance of the heroic, their preference for humble themes and sometimes in their technique.
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© Grove Art / OUP

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