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Souvenirs of the Barbizon: Photographs, Paintings, and Works on Paper

July 2, 2011–September 25, 2011
Galleries 2–4

Painting and photography blossomed into fully corollary practices not long after photography’s invention was announced in 1839. That fruitful relationship is exemplified by a group of works made in France’s Barbizon region.

Easily accessible by train from Paris as early as 1849, the Barbizon and its Forest of Fontainebleau flourished as a destination, and the inspiring rural landscape fostered a collegial atmosphere. Photographers, often trained as painters, composed images in response to oil sketches or drawings made outdoors or en plein air. Simultaneously, painters began using naturalistic photographs as aides-mémoire for future canvases. More realistic than sketches and more reproducible than paintings, photographs enjoyed wide circulation, popularizing and echoing compositions from the 1850s and 1860s by Jean-François Millet, while inspiring others by the likes of Camille Pissarro in the 1870s.

Giraudon's Artist. Woman Standing with Basket on Ground, c. 1875–80. Restricted gift of Anstiss and Ronald Krueck in honor of Matthew S. Witkovsky.