Barbizon school

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Barbizon school

(bär'bĭzōN`, bär`bĭzŏn'), an informal school of French landscape painting that flourished c.1830–1870. Its name derives from the village of Barbizon, a favorite residence of the painters associated with the school. Théodore RousseauRousseau, Théodore
, 1812–67, French landscape painter; leader of the Barbizon school. He first received recognition in the Salon of 1848 and was commissioned by the state to paint his Sortie de la forêt de Fontainebleau (Louvre).
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 was the principal figure of the group, which included the artists Jules DupréDupré, Jules
, 1811?–1889, French landscape painter of the Barbizon school. He excelled in portraying dramatic and tragic aspects of nature. A frequent and honored exhibitor at the Salon, Dupré spent his last years at L'Isle-Adam, where some of his best work
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, Narciso Diaz de la PeñaDiaz de la Peña, Narciso Virgilio
, 1808–76, French landscape and figure painter of the Barbizon school, b. Bordeaux, of Spanish parents. Mainly self-taught, he was influenced by Delacroix and Théodore Rousseau.
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, Constant TroyonTroyon, Constant
, 1810–65, French painter of the Barbizon school, famous for his pictures of animals, particularly cows, in landscape. Among his paintings are Oxen at Work (Louvre) and Holland Cattle and Road in the Woods (Metropolitan Mus.).
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, and Charles-François DaubignyDaubigny, Charles-François
, 1817–78, French landscape painter. He went to Italy early in life and later studied in Paris with Paul Delaroche. Although usually classed with the Barbizon school, he never lived in Barbizon.
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. These men reacted against the conventions of classical landscape and advocated a direct study of nature. Their work was strongly influenced by 17th-century Dutch landscape masters including RuisdaelRuisdael or Ruysdael, Jacob van
, c.1628–1682, Dutch painter and etcher, the most celebrated of the Dutch landscape painters.
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, CuypCuyp
or Kuyp
, family of Dutch painters of Dordrecht. Jacob Gerritszoon Cuyp, 1594–c.1651, pupil of Abraham Bloemaert, was a portrait and landscape painter.
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, and HobbemaHobbema, Meindert
, 1638–1709, Dutch landscape painter. In landscape art Hobbema was second only to his contemporary Jacob van Ruisdael, with whom he may have studied. Most of his life was spent in a poor district of Amsterdam, where he died a pauper.
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. CorotCorot, Jean-Baptiste Camille
, 1796–1875, French landscape painter, b. Paris. Corot was one of the most influential of 19th-century painters. The son of shopkeepers, he worked in textile shops until 1822, when he began to study painting.
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 and MilletMillet, Jean François,
1814–75, French painter. He was born into a poor farming family. In 1837 an award enabled him to go to Paris, where he studied with Delaroche.
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 are often associated with the Barbizon group, but in fact Corot's poetic approach and Millet's humanitarian outlook place them outside the development of the school. The Barbizon painters helped prepare for the subsequent development of the impressionist schools. Paintings of the Barbizon school were very popular with American collectors of the late 19th and early 20th cent. and influenced American painters of this period. The school is well represented in American collections, notably the Corcoran Gallery, the Isaac Delgado Museum of Art, New Orleans, the Metropolitan Museum, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.


See American Art Assn., Master Prints of the Barbizon School (1970); studies by J. Bouret (tr. 1973) and C. R. Sprague (1982).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Barbizon School


a group of French masters of realistic landscape painting of the 1830’s to 1860’s. It received its name from the village of Barbizon near Fontainebleau (southeast of Paris), where some of the members of the group did a great deal of painting.

The Barbizon school began during an upswing of the democratic movement, the development of national realistic art, and a crisis of the academic and romantic schools. In contrast to the idealization and conventionality of the “historical landscape” of the academics and the romantic cult of the imagination, the Barbizon school affirmed the aesthetic value of real nature in France—its forests and fields, rivers and mountain valleys, and towns and villages in their everyday aspects. In consistently creating a realistic system of landscape painting, the Barbizon artists drew on the heritage of Dutch 17th-century painting and the work of the English landscape painters of the early 19th century, John Constable and R. Bonington. First and foremost, however, they developed the realistic tendencies of French landscape painting of the 18th and first quarter of the 19th centuries—especially G. Michel and the leading masters of the romantic “school, T. Géricault, E. Delacroix, and P. Huet. The Barbizon painters freed landscape painting from the prescribed norms and observed and studied various areas of France directly. Besides Barbizon, they worked in many districts of Ile-de-France, Picardy, Normandy, Burgundy, Auvergne, Dauphiné, and others. They strove to individualize landscape subjects and to represent various states of nature, light, and air. The Barbizon painters attached great importance to artistic generalization and to the spiritual nature of the landscape—its emotional and visual integrity and its ties linking nature and the daily lives of ordinary people. Work from nature on a study or a picture and the artist’s intimate association with nature were combined in the Barbizon school with a tendency toward an epic breadth of images sometimes akin to a peculiar kind of romanticism and heroism. Chamber pictures were alternated with large landscape canvases. The Barbizon school systematically developed a method of tonal painting, restrained and at times almost monochromatic, rich in fine hues and nuances of light and color—subdued brown, ochre, and green tones are vitalized by occasional loud accents. The composition in the landscapes of the Barbizon school is natural but carefully constructed and balanced.

The older generation of Barbizon artists, T. Rousseau, J. Dupré, N. V. Diaz, preserving a definite tie with the romantic school, accentuated the heroic principles of the landscape, its plastic qualities, the material nature of the images, and the emotional role of light. The greatest representative of the younger generation, C. F. Daubigny, attached a great deal of importance to spontaneous impressions and an exact definition of the states of the surrounding air and light. A number of the Barbizon artists and the masters who were close to them, such as C. Troyon, C. Jacque, and R. Bonheur, attached substantive importance to genre and animal images in landscape painting, which were an organic part of the texture of the picture in the works of the leading artists. Many French painters of the 19th century show a closeness to the Barbizon school—for example, C. Corot in a number of his landscapes. J. F. Millet, who worked for many years in Barbizon, had particularly close ties with the Barbizon school. The influence of the Barbizon school on the subsequent development of realistic landscape painting was great in France (G. Courbet and E. Boudin) and in other countries (the Dutch artist J. B. Jongkind, the Belgian H. Boulenger, the Hungarians M. Munkacsy and L. Paal, the Pole J. Szermentowski, the Rumanian N. Grigorescu, the American landscape painter G. Inness, and the Russian landscape painters A. P. Bogoliubov, A. K. Savrasov, and F. A. Vasil’ev).


Iavorskaia, N. V. Peizazh barbizonskoi shkoly. Moscow, 1962.
Dorbec, P. L’art du paysage en France. Paris, 1925.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
"Paula's Heroes" introduces artists she admired--the Wilhelm Leibl circle, the Neu-Dachau group around Adolf Hoelzel, the symbolists Arnold Bocklin and Max Klinger, the Barbizon school, as well as Gustave Courbet, Charles Cottet and Auguste Rodin.
Among the features are purism, historical painting, the landscapes, and the Barbizon School. Exquisite color reproductions abound, of course.
He drew from the traditions of the 17th-century Dutch masters, particularly Rembrandt, and the Barbizon school landscape painters Charles Daubigny and Jules Dupre.
Alfred Wahlberg (1834-1906) one of the last Swedes to study in Dusseldorf, was also the first to move to Paris, inspired by the example of the pioneering openair paintings of the Barbizon School, which he saw in Brussels in 1860.
The Hudson River School style held sway for roughly fifty years, succumbing in the late nineteenth century to a variety of factors: the rise and spread of photography, making naturalistic landscapes by painters obsolete; the adoption of new styles of art from Europe, like the Barbizon School and French Impressionism; and the erosion of the underpinnings of the worship of nature and of God in nature by increasing religious skepticism.
One of the most interesting chapters is "The Counterrevolutionary Origins of Photography and Modern Landscape Painting" which examines the careers of Niepce, Daguerre and Talbot alongside a discussion of the landscape theories of Valenciennes and Deperthes and the development of the Barbizon School, exemplified particularly in the works of Corot and Theodore Rousseau.
8, "The Impressionist Landscape from Corot to Van Gogh." The exhibit features 34 paintings by the masters of 19th-century French painting, beginning with Barbizon School painters Camille Corot and Theodore Rousseau, and continuing through to the Impressionists and post-Impressionists, Eugene Boudin, Paul Cezanne, Paul Gauguin, Vincent Van Gogh, Claude Monet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir.
During the month of December, this relationship was suggestively probed in "The Figure and the Forest: Nineteenth-Century French Photographs and Drawings," a tightly focused, well-chosen exhibition that brought together a broad selection of photographs by "Giraudon's artist" and drawings by Corot, Millet, and members of the Barbizon School, including Theodore Rousseau and Narcisse-Virgile Diaz de la Pena, among others.
An enthusiastically and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, and academic American Art History collections, The Intimate Landscape: A New Look At The Origins Of The American Barbizon School by Estelle Riback offers an expertly informed and informative history and analysis of the work of American artists William Morris Hunt, George Inness, Homer Dodge Martin, and Alexander Helwig Wyant who were the late-nineteenth-century progenitors of what was to become known as the influential American Barbizon school of art.
The most important movements of nineteenth-century French art--Romanticism, Realism, and Impressionism--were all touched by a group of landscapists known as the Barbizon School, named for the village of Barbizon, the group's spiritual locus.