1.4.3.2 Barbizon School (1830-1875)

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QUICK LINKS:
Fontainebleau, Corot
Oak Trees and Pond, Dupré
The Beech Tree Le Gray
The Gleaners, Millet
The Angelus, Millet
Man with a Hoe, Millet

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.

[Source: theartstory.org]

[1432-10]

Corot painted this study in the summer of 1832 or 1833 in Bas-Bréau, part of Fontainebleau forest that was famous for its immense oak trees. It was executed in the naturalistic style that he had previously developed in Italy.

The tree reappears in Hagar in the Wilderness, the large canvas he exhibited at the 1835 Paris Salon. Improbably, in his realization of that biblical scene, Corot transplanted the oak from northern France to the Palestine desert.
[Source: metmuseum.org]

Image source: Wikimedia commons
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Fontainebleau: Oak Trees at Bas-Bréau1832-3Oil/Paper/WoodLandscape
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Corot, Jean-Baptiste-Camille1796-1875, aged 78French painter BarbizonBarbizon School
LOCATION:SIZE (cms):  [1432-11]

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York40 x 50  

Image source: Wikimedia commons
After training as a decorator on porcelain in his father’s factory, Dupré turned to painting in 1829. His meeting with Théodore Rousseau was a decisive moment. Working alongside him, he learned to treat nature with sincerity and depth.

Dupré was influenced by Constable and the English landscape artists, whom he discovered during a visit to London in 1834. He also admired 17th century Dutch painting, while at the same time being very influenced by Romanticism. Oak Trees and Pond reveals these many influences.

The overall composition of the painting – the water winding between the trees, the eye drawn towards the far distance– is reminiscent of Dutch painting, particularly Ruysdael’s work.

Partly painted from life, this painting was the result of work on sky, light and clouds reflected on water. Dupré depicts an enormous, twisted tree whose branches reach up to the heavens, a very Romantic way of expressing the power of nature compared with man. The few characters in the scene are so small that they are hardly noticed alongside the animals drinking at the pond.
[Source: musee-orsay.fr]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Oak Trees and Pond1850-5Oil/CanvasLandscape
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Dupré, Jules1811-1889, aged 78French painter BarbizonBarbizon School
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1432-12]

Musée d’Orsay, Paris France102 x 84  
A beech tree in the Forest of Fontainebleau rears back as if to begin a bow to the photographer who would so majestically immortalise it.

Of the many studies Gustave Le Gray made in Fontainebleau, a popular destination for artists and vacationing Parisians in the mid-nineteenth century, this photograph is the nearest to a portrait. With its gnarly roots exposed, the tree assumes center stage, a majestic and commanding force of nature whose trunk glows in the direct sunlight as if lit from within. Its leaves shimmer in the sun’s glow, making the dense foliage appear weightless.
[Source: getty.edu]

Image source: Wikimedia commons
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Beech Tree, The (Fontainebleau)1855-7PhotographLandscape
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Le Gray, Jean-Baptiste Gustave 1820-1884, aged 64French painter BarbizonBarbizon School
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1432-13]

J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, California32 x 41  

Image source:
Wikimedia commons
True to one of Millet’s favourite subjects – peasant life – this painting is the culmination of ten years of research on the theme of the gleaners.

These women incarnate the rural working-class. They were authorised to go quickly through the fields at sunset to pick up, one by one, the ears of corn missed by the harvesters.

The painter shows three of them in the foreground, bent double, their eyes raking the ground. He thus juxtaposes the three phases of the back-breaking repetitive movement imposed by this thankless task: bending over, picking up the ears of corn and straightening up again.

Their austerity contrasts with the abundant harvest in the distance: haystacks, sheaves of wheat, a cart and a busy crowd of harvesters.
[Source: artsandculture.google.com]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Gleaners, The1857Oil/CanvasGenre Painting
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Millet, Jean-François1814-1875, aged 60French painter BarbizonRealism/Barbizon
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1432-14]

Musée d’Orsay,  Rue de la Légion d’Honneur, 75007 Paris, France84 x 112  
A man and a woman are reciting the Angelus, a prayer which commemorates the annunciation made to Mary by the angel Gabriel. They have stopped digging potatoes and all the tools used for this task – the potato fork, the basket, the sacks and the wheelbarrow – are strewn around them.

In 1865, Millet said:’The idea for The Angelus came to me because I remembered that my grandmother, hearing the church bell ringing while we were working in the fields, always made us stop work to say the Angelus prayer for the poor departed’.

So it was a childhood memory which was behind the painting and not the desire to glorify some religious feeling; besides Millet was not a church-goer. He wanted to catch the immutable rhythms of peasant life in a simple scene. Here he has focused on a short break, a moment of respite.
[Source: musee-orsay.fr]

Image source:
Wikimedia commons
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Angelus, The1859Oil/CanvasGenre Painting
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Millet, Jean-François 1814-1875, aged 60French painter BarbizonRealism/Barbizon
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1432-15]

Musée d’Orsay,  Rue de la Légion d’Honneur, 75007 Paris, France56 x 66  

Image source:
Wikimedia commons
‘[A]s I have never seen anything but fields since I was born, I try to say as best I can what I saw and felt when I was at work’, wrote Jean-François Millet.

At the Salon of 1863, Man with a Hoe caused a storm of controversy. The man in the picture was considered brutish and frightening by Parisian bourgeoisie. The Industrial Revolution had caused a steady exodus from French farms, and Man with a Hoe was interpreted as a socialist protest about the peasant’s plight. Though his paintings were judged in political terms, Millet declared that he was neither a socialist nor an agitator. This farmer is Everyman.
[Source: getty.edu]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Man with a Hoe1860Oil/CanvasGenre Painting
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Millet, Jean-François 1814-1875, aged 60French painter BarbizonRealism/Barbizon
LOCATION:SIZE (cms):  
J. Paul Getty Museum, 1200 Getty Center Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90049, USA82 x 100  

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Back to 1.4.3.1 Realism (1830-1900) – Back to Realism and Barbizon index
Forward to Peredvizhniki and Abramtsevo Colony (1870 – 1890)

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