This exhibition is no longer on view at the National Gallery. Please follow the links below for related online resources or visit our current exhibitions schedule.More than 100 works by artists such as Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (1796–1875), Théodore Rousseau (1812–1867), Jean-François Millet (1814–1875), Claude Monet (1840–1926), Gustave Le Gray (1820–1884), and Eugène Cuvelier (1837–1900) explore the French phenomenon of plein-air (open-air) painting and photography in the region of Fontainebleau, a pilgrimage site for aspiring landscape artists. Some 35 miles southeast of Paris, the Forest of Fontainebleau became a magnet for artists and tourists in the 19th century. It was accessible, beautiful, and visually compelling, with a rare mix of traditional rural French villages and natural landscape features, including magnificent old-growth trees, stark plateaus, dramatic rock formations, and stone quarries. Best known for the informal artists’ colony centered in the village of Barbizon, the Forest of Fontainebleau became a nearly obligatory stop for both French and foreign artists, and served as subject and sanctuary, "natural studio" and open-air laboratory for investigating nature. Spanning half a century, from the mid-1820s through the 1870s, this artistic movement gave rise to the Barbizon School of painting and laid the groundwork for impressionism. The forest also inspired a new school of landscape photography, as figures such as Gustave Le Gray and Eugène Cuvelier, working side by side with painters, explored the camera’s potential to reveal nature in a fresh and unadorned manner. The exhibition also includes 19th-century artists' equipment and tourist ephemera.
Organization: Organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, in association with the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
Sponsor: The exhibition is made possible by The Florence Gould Foundation.
The exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.