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, NG) 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

The Barbizon school of painters were part of an art movement towards Realism in art, which arose in the context of the dominant Romantic Movement of the time The Barbizon school was active roughly from 1830 through 1870 It takes its name from the village of Barbizon, France, near the Forest of Fontainebleau, where many of the artists gathered Some of the most prominent features of this school are its tonal qualities, color, loose brushwork, and softness of form

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In 1824 the Salon de Paris exhibited works of John Constable, an English painter His rural scenes influenced some of the younger artists of the time, moving them to abandon formalism and to draw inspiration directly from nature Natural scenes became the subjects of their paintings rather than mere backdrops to dramatic events During the Revolutions of 1848 artists gathered at Barbizon to follow Constable’s ideas, making nature the subject of their paintings The French landscape became a major theme of the Barbizon painters

The leaders of the Barbizon school were Théodore Rousseau, Jean-François Millet, and Charles-François Daubigny; other members included Jules Dupré, Constant Troyon, Charles Jacque, Narcisse Virgilio Díaz, Pierre Emmanuel Damoye, Charles Olivier de Penne, Henri Harpignies, Paul-Emmanuel Péraire, Gabriel-Hippolyte Lebas, Albert Charpin, Félix Ziem, François-Louis Français, Émile van Marcke, and Alexandre Defaux

Millet extended the idea from landscape to figures — peasant figures, scenes of peasant life, and work in the fields In The Gleaners (1857), for example, Millet portrays three peasant women working at the harvest Gleaners are poor people who are permitted to gather the remains after the owners of the field complete the main harvest The owners (portrayed as wealthy) and their laborers are seen in the back of the painting Millet shifted the focus and the subject matter from the rich and prominent to those at the bottom of the social ladders To emphasize their anonymity and marginalized position, he hid their faces The women’s bowed bodies represent their everyday hard work

Painters in other countries were also influenced by this art Beginning in the late nineteenth century, many artists came to Paris from Austria-Hungary to study the new movements For instance, the Hungarian painter János Thorma studied in Paris as a young man In 1896 he was one of the founders of the Nagybánya artists’ colony in what is now Baia Mare, Romania, which brought impressionism to Hungary