The Forest of Fontainebleau. A Life-Sized Studio. From Corot to Picasso
From the late 18th century, artists had been going to the Forest of Fontainebleau to make their first studies "from life". As open-air painting developed, the Barbizon school of artists, followed by the Impressionists, invaded the forest to "work directly from Nature" and turned it into the most popular site in the art world throughout the 19th century. This success gave rise to hundreds of works of art which, whilst portraying the forest, also demonstrate the changes in landscape art.
In addition to presenting a series of works signed by the greatest artists, from Corot to Picasso, this exhibition raises the question of why the Forest of Fontainebleau attracted not only painters and photographers, but also writers and poets. It provokes thoughts about the close links, throughout the 19th century, between this very special site and the artists, who found inspiration in "the spirit of the place" and changed its image. For after "absorbing" the romantic forest created by the men of letters, the painters contributed to its reinvention. This was a prelude to its official recognition as an "Artistic Reserve" when, in 1874, the Forest of Fontainebleau became the first natural site in the world to be classified.