National Gallery of Art - EXHIBITIONS

Image: In the Forest of Fontainebleau: Painters and Photographers from Corot to Monet

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Related Resources

Exhibition Feature
Image: Exhibition Feature

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Manet and His Influence

Education Resource
Picturing France 1830–1900

NGA Backstory: The Magic of Fontainebleau
Step behind the scenes of a world-class museum with host Barbara Tempchin and Kimberly Jones, associate curator of French paintings, National Gallery of Art
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Press Materials

Image: Augustin Enfantin (1793 - 1827) An Artist Painting in the Forest of Fontainebleau, c. 1825 oil on paper mounted on canvas Private CollectionMore 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.