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Rousseau and the Barbizon School of Painting

Théodore Rousseau was the leading light of the Barbizon school of painting in France in the mid-nineteenth century, a school that was a precursor in many ways to the Impressionists who would so dominate the art world later in the century and into the twentieth century. Rousseau, Camille Corot, and the other members of the Barbizon school developed the style known as paysage intime, which made use of subtle gradations of glowing tones. Rousseau (1812-1867) was the pioneer in plein air or open air landscape painting. His work had a consistently non-academic look and was therefore rejected again and again by the Salon, earning him the nickname of "le grand refusé." After 1836, Rousseau worked regularly in the Forest of Fontainebleau, where he specialized in wooded scenes, an example of which is "Wooded Stream." In 1848 he settled permanently in the village of Barbizon, and there he was a close friend of Millet and Diaz. He achieved his success in the 1850s, and his output was prolific. He is today well-represented in galleries in France and elsewhere.

The Barbizon School consisted of the group of French painters who took their name from the small village on the outskirts of the Forest of Fontainebleau. The leader was Rousseau, and several of his followers settled in the region in the latter half of the 1840s, as did Rousseau. The other members of the group included Charles François Daubigny, Narcisse-Virgile Diaz, Jules Dupré, Charles-Emile Jacque, and Constant Troyon. This group was united in the opposition of the members to Classical conventions and because of their interest in landscape painting for its own sake, which was a relatively new development in French art. Their inspiration came in part from England where Constable and Bonington were developing a new landscape style and in part from the seventeenth-century Dutch painters on whom the English tradition was founded. The artists of the Barbizon school advoc...

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Rousseau and the Barbizon School of Painting. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 22:59, November 30, 2021, from