The Barbizon School

Of the many groups of painters who found in landscape a rural paradise, it was the Barbizon School whose name became internationally synonymous with this nineteenth-century idyll of nature, man, and beast unpolluted by the grim facts of city life. Easily accessible to landscape painters whose careers were to be made within the context of the Paris art establishment of Salons, critics, and public and private patrons, the tiny village of Barbizon was located in the middle of the Forest of Fontainebleau, some thirty miles southeast of the capital. Beginning in the 1830s, it became the symbolic seat of those painters who, on long sojourns away from Paris, wished to immerse themselves in the commonplace, enduring truths of nature— tangles of weeds in marshes, the watering places of cattle, the reflections of the setting sun on thick foliage unpruned by man [….] The most prominent member of the Barbizon School, Pierre-Etienne-Théodore Rousseau (1812-1867), referred to the Fontainebleau Forest as Arcadia.

From 19th Century Art. Rosenblum and Janson. Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, 1984.


Le Petit Pêcheur, 1848
Soleil couchant, vers 1850