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The Barbizon school of painters

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 1830-1870.
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.
In 1824 the Salon de Paris exhibited works of John Constable, an British painter.

John Constable | Tramonto sulla Senna


Jean-Francois Millet | La fin de la journée, effect du soir

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.


Jules Dupré | Le moulin à vent

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:
Other members included:
  • Jules Dupré,
  • Constant Troyon,
  • Charles Jacque,
  • Narcisse Virgilio Diaz,
  • Pierre Emmanuel Damoye,
  • Charles Olivier de Penne,
  • Henri Harpignies,
  • Gabriel-Hippolyte Lebas (1812-1880),
  • Albert Charpin,
  • Félix Ziem,
  • François-Louis Français,
  • Emile van Marcke
  • 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.
In the spring of 1829, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot🎨 came to Barbizon to paint in the Forest of Fontainebleau, he had first painted in the forest at Chailly in 1822.
He returned to Barbizon in the autumn of 1830 and in the summer of 1831, where he made drawings and oil studies, from which he made a painting intended for the Salon of 1830; "View of the Forest of Fontainebleau'" (now in the National Gallery in Washington) and, for the salon of 1831, another "View of the Forest of Fontainebleau"'.
While there he met the members of the Barbizon school; Theodore Rousseau, Paul Huet, Constant Troyon, Jean-François Millet🎨, and the young Charles-François Daubigny.
During the late 1860s, the Barbizon painters attracted the attention of a younger generation of French artists studying in Paris.
Several of those artists visited Fontainebleau Forest to paint the landscape, including Claude Monet🎨, Pierre-Auguste Renoir🎨, Alfred Sisley🎨 and Frédéric Bazille.
In the 1870s those artists, among others, developed the art movement called Impressionism🎨 and practiced plein air🎨painting.
Both, Théodore Rousseau (1867) and Jean-François Millet🎨 (1875) died at Barbizon.
  • Influence in Europe
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.

János Thorma (1870-1937) Hungarian painter
János Thorma (1870-1937) Hungarian painter

In 2013, the Hungarian National Gallery opens a major retrospective of his work, entitled, ''János Thorma, the Painter of the Hungarian Barbizon, 8 February - 19 May 2013", Hungarian National Gallery.

Nicolae Grigorescu | Andreescu at Barbizon, 1880
National Museum of Art of Romania
  • American Barbizon school
The American Barbizon School was a group of painters and style partly influenced by the French Barbizon school, who were noted for their simple, pastoral scenes painted directly from nature.
American Barbizon artists concentrated on painting rural landscapes often including peasants or farm animals.

William Morris Hunt (1824-1879) The Belated Kid, 1854-57

William Morris Hunt was the first American to work in the Barbizon style as he directly trained with Jean-François Millet in 1851-1853.
When he left France, Hunt established a studio in Boston and worked in the Barbizon manner, bringing the style to the United States of America.

William Morris Hunt (1824-1879) Plowing

The Barbizon approach was generally not accepted until the 1880s and reached its pinnacle of popularity in the 1890s. | © Wikipedia

Childe Hassam | Notte piovosa a New York, 1890
Theodore Rousseau | Mare au Crépuscule

The Barbizon School: List of artists and their art at Tutt'Art@



Con il termine scuola di Barbizon o Barbisonniers si identifica un gruppo di pittori e una corrente paesaggista del realismo collegata alla località di Barbizon in Francia, non lontana dalla foresta di Fontainebleau.
Il luogo è stato un ritrovo di artisti principalmente nel periodo tra il 1830-1870 e ha raccolto esponenti del realismo particolarmente inclini a indugiare in tendenze formalmente raffinate e legate al romanticismo. Ma l'associazione del paesaggio con lo stato d'animo non perseguì tanto l'idealizzazione o l'elevazione della natura, quanto piuttosto la ricerca di una autenticità e di una ispirazione sincera, uno stato di umiltà di fronte alle infinite suggestioni offerte dal creato.
Tra gli artisti che maggiormente influenzarono questo movimento, un ruolo fondamentale spetta indubbiamente a John Constable che, a partire dalla sua prima esposizione al Salon di Parigi nel 1824, fu un maestro nella raffigurazione paesaggista dal vero di scene rurali e campestri non come sfondo a scene particolari, ma fine a se stesse.
Dal 1848 in poi, le sue idee raccolsero artisti di ogni provenienza nel piccolo villaggio: tra questi, Jean-François Millet🎨 che per primo introdusse nel paesaggismo la raffigurazione di personaggi d'umile estrazione, e Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot🎨, che insieme a Théodore Rousseau e a Charles-François Daubigny, divenne ben presto capofila della scuola.

Jules Dupré | Paysage

Tra gli altri esponenti, Jules Dupré molto vicino a Rousseau, il manierato e brillante Narcisse Virgilio Díaz de la Peña🎨, Jules Jacques Veyrassat, Henri Harpignies, Félix Ziem, Constant Troyon, Albert Charpin, Charles Olivier de Penne, Alexandre DeFaux, Ferdinand Chaigneau e, marginalmente, lo svizzero Karl Bodmer.

La più grande esposizione che si ricorda fu quella del 1848 all'Esposizione Universale di Parigi, dove Paul Durand-Ruel espose trecento paesaggi dei pittori della Scuola di Barbizon.
Sia Rousseau che Millet morirono a Barbizon, rispettivamente nel 1867 e nel 1875.
La compagnia di pittori si installò nello spartano alberghetto di père Ganne, scrutando campi, foreste, paludi, armenti e greggi con una tale attenzione da portare avanti il loro studio fino all'analisi dei contrasti di luce, delle articolazioni di rami e foglie, delle variazioni cromatiche del sottobosco e così via.
  • Ai primi del Novecento, l'influenza della scuola di Barbizon giunse anche in America, dove diede origine alla cosiddetta scuola americana di Barbizon i cui esponenti principali furono Thomas Eakins, Childe Hassam🎨, Winslow Homer🎨, Wilson Irvine, George Inness e Henry Tanner.
A Barbizon giunsero, intorno al 1866, anche alcuni protagonisti dell'Impressionismo🎨, come Monet e Renoir🎨, in cerca di ispirazione.

John Constable (British painter, 1776-1837)
Julien Dupré | La moisson
John Constable (British painter, 1776-1837)

John Constable (British painter, 1776-1837)
Julien Dupré | Femme avec brouette
John Constable (British painter, 1776-1837)

John Constable (British painter, 1776-1837)
Jules Dupré | Le moulin à vent


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