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Core Record

Title Woodland Scene
Collection Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
Artist Diaz de la Peņa, Narcisse Virgile (French painter and printmaker, 1808-1876)
Date Earliest about 1850
Date Latest about 1870
Signed yes
Description Diaz and the other Barbizon artists sought a timeless, unchanging quality in the virgin forest of Fontainebleau, away from the unpredictable political upheavals of nineteenth century France. Traditionally, landscape artists had aspired towards Italianate scenes, injecting elements of classical learning into their landscapes in an attempt to raise the more lowly status of this genre. The Barbizon artists, however, more attracted by the Dutch and Flemish tradition, painted native French scenes and eschewed literary content, portraying the huge trees and infinite complexity of the ancient forest as being beyond human understanding. The single human figure is dwarfed and rendered insignificant by the huge tree on left. In this painting, Diaz refuses to impose the traditional landscape forms inherited from Claude and allows the landscape to dictate the composition. The pool in the foreground is a frequent motif reminding the viewer of the process of precipitation and evaporation, making this timeless, natural cycle the central narrative of the painting.
Current Accession Number 1939P642
Former Accession Number P.642´39
Subject landscape (woodland); place (Fontainebleau?)
Measurements 45.7 x 66 cm.0 cm (estimate)
Material oil on canvas
Acquisition Details Given by R. W. E. Allars 1939.
Principal Exhibitions Pictures from the City Art Gallery, Birmingham, Agnew's, 1957, cat. no. 8; Development of 19th Century French Art, Ashikaga Museum of Art, 1994 (touring).
Publications Illustrations, 1952, p. II, ill.; Foreign Paintings in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, A Summary Catalogue, 1983, no. 44, ill.
Rights Owner Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
Author Dr Patricia Smyth



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