Some 40 miles away from Paris, Barbizon, a small hamlet of farmers and coal traders bordering the Fontenaibleau forest, became the birthplace of a new form of art: landscape painting.
It was only in 1925 that art historians discovered the importance of the painters belonging to the school of Barbizon thanks to a book written by Prosper Dorbec, "The art of landscape painting in France".
The introduction of lanscapes in paintings was a major phenomenon and those artists who were the pioneers in that new form of art were issued from the people who fought for equal rights during the French Revolution from which originated the bourgeois society of the 19th Century. These painters fought against established institutions and were the standard bearers of a new kind of freedom since they moved away from traditional trends.
Rocks in the Fontainbleau forest
While the bourgeois society marked its predominence between 1830 and 1870 , the Barbizon painters tried to find a new way of blossoming their inspiration through nature as well as to find a new soul and identity.
These painters made a complete inventory of nature in finding models among Dutch painters of the 17th Century and British from the 18th and 19 th Century. They also rebelled against the French Academy which was controlled by representatives of the bourgeois society.
Taking the risk of being rejected, facing difficult living conditions, they wanted above all to paint what pleased them. They thus turned their attention to landscape painting, a genre which had been quite neglected in France.
Achille Michallon, Corot's mentor was among those who were the first to follow that path and contrary to certain painters who painted Italian landscapes at the end of the 18th Century, these pioneers instilled in their works a language and a new spirit. They were seduced also by realism and turned their backs to romanticism while seeking a pathetic approach.
The storm, circa 1820-1830