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The Oaks (Les Chênes)

Between the 1830s and 1850s, a number of prominent French artists gathered at the village of Barbizon in the forest of Fontainebleau to paint directly from nature. The so-called Barbizon School of painters—with Théodore Rousseau as one of its leaders—took inspiration from seventeenth-century Dutch landscape painters and from English artists such as John Constable. They, in turn, served as mentors for the next generation of French painters, the Impressionists. Although displayed as a finished work at the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1889, this thinly painted, almost monochromatic image of a forest clearing may have been a sketch for a larger work.

Théodore Rousseau
French, 1812‒1867
The Oaks (Les Chênes)
ca. 1858
Oil on canvas
21 x 25 ¼ in. (53.3 x 64.1 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Evan F. Lilly Memorial, 70.87