Diaz de La Peña, Narcisse-Virgile

Diaz de La Peña, Narcisse-Virgile

▪ French painter
born 1808, Bordeaux, Fr.
died Nov. 18, 1876, Menton

      French painter and lithographer of the group of landscape painters known as the Barbizon school, who is distinguished for his numerous Romantic depictions of the forest of Fontainebleau and his landscape fantasies with mythological figures.

      At 15 Diaz began working as a ceramic painter for the Sèvres porcelain factory. He studied for a time with the academic painter Alexandre Cabanel. Strongly influenced by Delacroix and the Romantics and attracted by medieval and Middle Eastern art, he often in his early career painted exotic subjects.

      About 1840 Diaz began to paint landscapes in the forest of Fontainebleau near the village of Barbizon. These landscapes, which dominated his work for the rest of his career, characteristically have a pervasive sense of the shadowy seclusion of the forest; e.g., “Forest Scene” (1867; St. Louis [Mo.] Art Museum). Dense, vividly coloured foliage is broken by spots of light or patches of sky shining through the branches. During the last 15 years of his life Diaz seldom exhibited publicly. He was helpful and sympathetic to the Impressionists, especially Renoir, whom he met in 1861 painting at Barbizon.

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