Image rights: Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington
Chester Dale Fund
About Théodore Rousseau
Painter Théodore Rousseau is best recognized as a founder and instrumental figure of the French Barbizon School of landscape painters. Though he was trained in the Neoclassical tradition, Rousseau reacted against its idealization of nature and privately emulated the 17th-century Dutch landscape painters. In the 1820s, Rousseau began to paint out of doors, directly from observation—an idea that was then unconventional and censured by the Parisian Academy’s Salon. Rousseau retreated to the village of Barbizon to pursue his practice, and was joined by other painters including Jean-François Millet, Narcisse-Virgile Diaz de La Peña, and Charles-François Daubigny. His primary subject would be the forest of Fontainebleau surrounding the town, which he would sketch in the summer and then paint in the winter. Because he was so meticulous, his detailed and meditative compositions could take years to complete.
French, April 15, 1812 - December 22, 1867, Paris, France