Narcisse Díaz de la Peña (1808 – 1876) was possibly the most disordered painter and also the most passionate of those who made up the group of artists of the so-calledBarbizon School. And he is surely the most colorful painter of all of them. A group featuring great figures of French painting prior to Impressionism such as Theodore Rousseau, Charles Daubignyor Camille Corot.
In the Forest of Fontainebleau by Díaz de la Peña
In fact, of all the painters in this group, Díaz de la Peña is the one in which the pictorial heritage of Romanticism is most noticeable, and not only in color but also in themes, since it is common for him to dedicate his works to storms, for example, which gives him the opportunity to capture the most contrasting and the strongest.
He, as happens with the best landscape artists of romantic painting, continues pouring his feelings into those landscapes, in a way that also humanizes them or makes them very spiritual, although he does not reach the heights of the German painter Caspar David Friedrich with his works such as Clarity in the mountains.
In the case of Díaz de la Peña, it is curious to see his evolution until he became a landscaper. As a child, at the age of 10, he was orphaned, and from his native Bordeauxhe was transferred to Sèvres to live with friends of his family. There, two important things happened: on the one hand, after a reptile sting, there was a wound that could not be healed, which meant having to amputate one of his legs, something that years later made his wooden leg well known.
And on the other hand, at the age of 15 he entered theschool of Sèvreswhere he soon began to decorate those famous porcelain figures. So his training was very different from the landscape painters. However, a few years later he would meet Theodore Rousseau, author of works such as El Abrevadero. And he met him precisely in theForest of Fontainebleauwhere the play we see here is set. From that very moment he felt a true admiration for that artist.
A work by Díaz de la Peña painted in 1870, many years after he met Rousseau, since the truth is that it was not easy for his revered master (despite being a few years younger) to lend him attention and will teach you its pictorial secrets. However, Díaz de la Peña managed to win his friendship over time and learn from a Rousseau with a very sullen character.