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Barbizon School

Artists' movement



Around 1830 a group of Parisian painters met every year in the village of Barbizon in the Forest of Fontainebleau in order to work together. The name of the Barbizon School is derived from this meeting place. And yet, strictly speaking, it was not a school at all, since it did not teach a uniform style or a uniform aesthetic. It was rather that the artists shared a common longing for a lifestyle they felt to be more natural, away from the civilisation of big-city life. They concentrated on scenes of rural life and simple landscapes which conveyed the impression of remoteness. Since the paintings were sometimes sketched in the open air and then completed in the studio, the Barbizon artists are regarded as the main forerunners of the plein-air paintings of the Impressionists. Important representatives are Théodore Rousseau, Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot, Charles-François Daubigny, Jean-François Millet and Gustave Courbet. The painters were initially unsuccessful in achieving their common aim of showing light-suffused paintings at the conservative Paris Salon, the official exhibition institution of the academy. The portrayal of the forests and fields of their home country was in marked contrast to the Neo-Classical academic approach to art, which was oriented towards the Renaissance and antiquity. Important contemporary and historical models for the Barbizon artists were, by contrast, the atmospheric landscape paintings of John Constable and those of the Dutch artist Jacob van Ruisdael (1629–1682). From the 1850s the Barbizon School was also able to establish itself in the academic world. Jean-François Millet, for example, became a member of the jury of the Salon and was awarded the French order of merit for his work.

Persons belonging to Barbizon School

Works associated with Barbizon School