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The Barbizon School Collage

The Barbizon School

Started: 1830

Ended: 1870

The Barbizon School Timeline

Quotes

"Beauty in art is truth bathed in an impression received from nature."
Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot
"You must interpret Nature with entire simplicity and according to your personal sentiment, altogether detaching yourself from what you know of the Old Masters or of contemporaries. Only in this way will you do work of real feeling."
Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot
"It is better in art to be honest than clever."
Théodore Rousseau
"My critics are educated people and of taste, I imagine; But I can not put myself in their shoes; And as I have never seen anything other than the fields in my life, I try to say as I can what I have seen and experienced when I was working on it."
Jean-François Millet
"To tell the truth, the peasant subjects suit my temperament best; for I must confess, even if you think me a socialist, that the human side of art is what touches me most."
Jean-François Millet
"You must thoroughly feel what you are going to draw."
Jean-François Millet

KEY ARTISTS

Jean-Baptiste-Camille CorotJean-Baptiste-Camille Corot
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Jean-François MilletJean-François Millet
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Theodore RousseauTheodore Rousseau
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Charles-François DaubignyCharles-François Daubigny
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"Go to the country - The muse is in the woods."

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot Signature

Synopsis

Pioneers of the Naturalist movement in landscape painting, The Barbizon School was a loose association of artists who worked around the village of Barbizon, located just outside Paris near the Forest of Fontainebleau. Members came from different backgrounds and worked in a range of styles but they were drawn together by their passion for painting en plein air and their desire to elevate landscape painting from a mere background to mythological or classical scenes to a subject in its own right. The rugged countryside and ancient trees of the forest held a powerful attraction and inspired several generations of artists from Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Theodore Rousseau, and Jean-François Millet to Renoir and Manet.

Key Ideas

In reaction to the stylized and idealized depictions of figures and landscapes favored by Neoclassicism, most artists that formed part of the school approached painting in a naturalistic manner - capturing the things that they saw truthfully, making careful observations and painting directly from nature to faithfully reproduce the colors and forms of the countryside.
Although many pieces produced by artists from the school contain figures, most are without narrative and this echoes the wider tenets of the school in that the landscape itself forms the main subject matter of the work. The exception to this is Millet who extended the concepts of Naturalism to the human form, focusing on rural laborers in the area around Barbizon and often including a social commentary in his art.
The Barbizon painters trialed various techniques including applying wet paint onto wet paint, completing a canvas in a single sitting, and concentrating on the effects of light on the landscape. Many also worked using looser brushstrokes and a freer style than was traditional in Academic painting. These experiments had a profound impact on the work of the Impressionists who travelled to Barbizon as young artists to learn from the members of the School.

Beginnings

The Barbizon School Image

The Forest of Fontainebleau first began attracting artists in the 18th century including the Neoclassicists Jean-Joseph-Xavier Bidauld, Théodore Caruelle d'Aligny, and Alexandre Desgoffe. The painters were drawn, not only, to the wild and varied landscape, but also to the French fables and legends that were associated with the forest. It was, however, the arrival of Corot and Théodore Rousseau in the early 19th century that made the area into a magnet for artists including Jean-François Millet, Charles-François Daubigny, Constant Troyon, Charles Jacque, and Narcisse-Virgilio Díaz de la Peña.

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The Barbizon School Overview Continues

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Cite this page

Content compiled and written by Rebecca Seiferle

Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Kate Stephenson

" Movement Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Rebecca Seiferle
Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Kate Stephenson
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