The pretty town of Barbizon lies just over 6 miles north of Fontainebleau castle in the Seine et Marne department (77630), which is part of the Ile de France region. So it’s a great idea to combine both tours in your day trip out of Paris.

Barbizon and the Pre-Impressionist painters

The small village of Barbizon owes its fame to the many artists who came here from the world over between 1830 and 1875. The painters, most of them naturalists and landscape artists, found an endless source of inspiration in this rural and rustic little village in the Parisian suburbs, away from the noise and pollution of the towns.
The naturalist movement advocates the representation of nature exactly as it appears. Consequently the subjects of the paintings were no longer historical or mythological figures but the studies of nature and its array of landscapes. Being close to Fontainebleau forest, the hamlet of Barbizon provided the settings and luminosity that enabled all these artists to paint their most exquisite canvasses.

Contrary to what is suggested by the term « the Barbizon school of painters » in art history, there was no school in Barbizon. This turn of phrase refers to all those artists who worked in the hamlet and the surrounding villages and who embraced this passion for « outdoor » painting.

Among the most famous painters of this period we should mention are :
Camille Corot (1796-1875)
Théodore Caruelle d’Aligny (1798-1871)
Paul Huet (1803-1869)
Théodore Rousseau (1812-1867)
Jean-François Millet (1814-1875)
Narcisse Diaz de la Pena (1816-1876)
Jules Dupré (1811-1889)

Discover Barbizon

There are plenty of ways to soak up the atmosphere which so inspired the artists during your tour of Barbizon :
– The Municipal Museum of Barbizon painters
– François Millet’s workshop and house

You can also wander around the village and follow the Barbizon painters’ discovery tour. This 5 mile walk is easy and accessible to all. The trail takes around two and a half hours to complete.