Les chênes en forêt de Fontainbleau
Strangely enough the French public was not attracted by the paintings of the Barbizon artists while these came quickly much in demand in the U.S, in England or in Russia.
The other founders of this school were Narcisse Diaz, Daubigny, Troyon and Dupré but these painters were supplanted by the Impressionist artists at the end of the 19th Century. As a result their movement only lasted 45 years between 1830 and 1875.
Before evoking these legendary painters,such as Théodore Rousseau, Jean-François Millet or Camille Corot, it seems essential to stress the role of Georges Michel, born 1763, who showed his interest in the Montmartre and the St Denis plains landscapes after giving up a career as a classical painter.
Much attracted by Dutch landcsape painters of the 17th Century, Michel was first influenced by Demarne at the end of the 18th Century and painted landscapes which later inspired many artists from the school of Barbizon. Before him, Lazare Bruandet, who had sought refuge in the Fontainebleau forest after murdering his mistress, had had the occasion of painting some admirable scenes which, with those of Lantara, were among the first to have ever been produced in that area.
Landscape near Paris, circa 1849
Landscape painting had already met some tremendous success with many English painters at the end of the 18th Century and it was in London that Gericault and Delacroix discovered the works of Gainsborough, Constable and Turner. After them came Bonington, a great master who however died young. However, the determining event was the Salon of 1824 where Constable exhibited three of his paintings.
His technique left its mark on many French artists, notably Gericault and Delacroix who soon became interested in the representation of light and it is also true that Constable impressed Troyon, Courbet, Daubigny and many others.
Paul Huet, another painter drew their attention as he had already painted landscapes at 13 et well before Boudin, had played with the luminous effect of the Honfleur sky. Huet met Bonington in 1819 and both artists worked together during a certain period of time. However, Huet had a more romantic soul and was not a naturalist painter frankly speaking. That is why he never came so much close to the Barbizon artists.