32.125 x 20.375 inches
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Les Iles Vierges A Bezons Reproduction
Painting - Oil On Stretched Canvas, Gallery Wrap
Les Iles Vierges a Bezons/ Oil on canvas laid down on panel (custom made to the size of original painting) 20 3/8 x 32 1/8 inches (51.8 x 81.9 cm) A reproduction by mukta after Charles-Fran�ois Daubigny (1817-1878). This painting was done in old master's style as a class project where we had to choose a particular old master and reproduce his/her work to learn from it. The frame was custom made so that painting can be reproduced exactly. I learnt a lot out of this project.
In early nineteenth-century France, landscape painting was narrowly circumscribed by an aesthetic code upheld by the conservative French Academy. Painters and sculptors were rigorously trained in the Neoclassical tradition to emulate artists of the Renaissance and classical antiquity. In the hierarchy of historical subjects recognized by the Academy, pure landscape painting was not a privilege. At best, artists could hope to paint an idealized nature inspired by ancient poetry. The grand classicizing subjects of the seventeenth-century painters Nicolas Poussin and Claude Lorrain presented other acceptable models.
Following in the path of Poussin and Claude, those eager to paint from nature went to Italy. There, among ancient monuments drenched in Mediterranean sunlight, they gathered to paint and draw directly in the landscape. Even if their open-air sketches retained the formal linearity of the Neoclassical aesthetic, those exercises, often made in the countryside surrounding Rome, freed artists to leave the studio-to fully experience nature, to look rather than copy, to feel rather than analyze. Years later, already eclipsed by Impressionism, these pioneering painters of nature came to be called the Barbizon School. Despite differing in age, technique, training, and lifestyle, the artists of the Barbizon School collectively embraced their native landscape, particularly the rich terrain of the Forest of Fontainebleau. They shared a recognition of landscape as an independent subject, a determination to exhibit such paintings at the conservative Salon, and a mutually reinforcing pleasure in nature. Alfred Sensier, close friend and biographer of Barbizon painters Th�odore Rousseau and Jean-Fran�ois Millet, wrote of the romantic attraction of the Forest of Fontainebleau: "They had reached such a pitch of over-excitement that they were quite unable to work... the proud majesty of the old trees, the virgin state of rocks and heath... all these intoxicated them with their beauty and their smell. They were, in truth, possessed."
Of the artists who joined Corot in the French countryside in the summer months, Charles-Fran�ois Daubigny was among the most accomplished. Whether painting storks hovering over a marsh or an apple orchard swaying in the wind, he brought his canvases to a radical degree of completion outdoors. Daubigny worked in the Forest of Fontainebleau in his early years, but his preference for water soon led him to other regions of France. From his floating studio, a refitted ferry called Le Bottin (The Little Box), Daubigny ambled along the River Oise painting transient skies and limpid waters. Daubigny supported many Impressionists in their early years and urged their inclusion in Salon exhibitions.
Barbizon was more than just a place; it was an encompassing motif. Like other great motifs, it transcended geography. Inspirational and nurturing, even despite daily trials of frostbitten fingers at winter's dawn or sunburned hands at summer's midday, Barbizon answered the quest for landscape's metaphoric power. The artists of the Barbizon School showed us the rapidly disappearing rural path to painterly "truth" well before the Impressionists trod the same forest and fields, carrying with them their factory-made satchels with metallic tubes of new pigments and their modern ways of seeing. Landscape painting was no longer subservient to history painting. It was history in the making.
Amory, Dita. "The Barbizon School: French Painters of Nature". In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000�. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/bfpn/hd_bfpn.htm (March 2007)
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November 22nd, 2012
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