Artwork Detail

Wood Interior
French, 1807–1876
Oil on canvas
43 1/4 x 51 1/2 "
Bequest of Charles Parsons, 1905
WU 2110
Narcisse Virgile Diaz de la Peña was a leading figure of the French Barbizon school, a group of artists who painted around the Forest of Fontainebleau and the village of Barbizon outside of Paris from the early 1830s to the 1870s. These artists broke with academic conventions of composing paintings from sketches made in the studio, and instead painted en plein air (out of doors). They sought to depict nature on a more human, accessible scale, and as an antidote to the increasing industrialization of urban life. In this wooded scene, Diaz de la Peña intertwined branches and leaves at the top of the canvas and cast the ground below in deep shadow, creating an area of darkness that frames a clearing illuminated by sunlight and a blue sky. This contrast evokes a sensation of walking through the cool interior of a forest and emerging into brilliant light, an effect enhanced by thick brushstrokes and varied paint application that mimic the dense forest foliage. The sensual, painterly exploration of the landscape expresses a subjective and intimate vision of nature, implying an unmediated and authentic connection with the natural world. [Permanent collection label, 2017]