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A Breath of Fresh Air: The Barbizon School

Gemeentemuseum Den Haag has one of the Netherlands’ largest collections of 19th-century graphic art, including many prints by the most important representatives of the Barbizon School: Theodore Rousseau, Jean-François Millet, Jean-Baptiste Corot and Jean-François Daubigny. A selection of 45 prints of the finest landscapes and a small number of portraits will be shown in the museum’s Berlage Room.

In the mid-19th century a group of young artists settled in the French village of Barbizon, close to the forest of Fontainebleau, just outside Paris. There, taking a fresh look at the world, they painted the simple rural life, free of all academic convention. Their practice of painting ‘en plein air’, in the open air, enhanced the realism of their work.

In the years that followed the Barbizon School became an important role model for artists from all over Europe. The quiet village of Barbizon turned into an international artists’ colony, where artists from the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Britain, Belgium and even the United States went to paint the landscape as Rousseau and Millet had done. The painters of the Hague School and German artist Max Liebermann also regarded the Barbizon School as an important source of inspiration. Liebermann, whose work will be on display at the Gemeentemuseum at the same time, in a major retrospective, was for example a big fan of Millet.

Relevant research areas: Western Europe, 19th Century, Etching

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