National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of The Approaching Storm Constant Troyon (painter)
French, 1810 - 1865
The Approaching Storm, 1849
oil on canvas on board
overall: 116.2 x 157.5 cm (45 3/4 x 62 in.) framed: 159.4 x 199.7 x 17.8 cm (62 3/4 x 78 5/8 x 7 in.)
Chester Dale Fund
On View
From the Tour: Romantics and Realists
Object 4 of 7

In the 1840s Troyon worked with other landscape painters centered in the village of Barbizon in the forest of Fontainebleau. This group had emerged from the so-called Generation of 1830, young painters who as the July Revolution was deposing a conservative monarch were themselves overturning long-held traditions of French landscape painting. They had been influenced by John Constable's panoramic views of the English countryside, two of which had been shown at the Paris Salon of 1824, which encouraged them to express nature without academic convention or idealization. Here Troyon has depicted an ordinary, if beautiful place in a straightforward way. Preparing for the last ferry crossing before a storm, country people look at the looming, dark sky. The air is filled with the approaching storm -- more than anything else this is the "subject."

If the Barbizon painters' unembellished themes offended tradition, so did their manner of painting. The texture of the paint is clearly visible, helping to convey the scene's rustic character. This free handling of paint, along with a feeling for light in all its variations, was to be an inspiration for the impressionists. But the Barbizon painters were not interested in nature's fleeting effects, but sought out the rugged and enduring unity beneath its changing aspects.

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