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Over the course of the nineteenth century, the genre of landscape painting shifted from one of the lowliest subjects for academic painters to one of the primary genres of avant-garde engagement. Key to this transformation were the unassuming, informal landscape paintings of the Barbizon school. Drawing on the Kemper Art Museum's rich collection of nineteenth-century landscape painting, this exhibition will present close to forty works by the Barbizon's leaders, lesser-known figures, and a selection of French and Americans influenced by the movement, along with a small selection of travel guides and caricatures from that era which illustrate popular notions of the Barbizon region.

Rejecting the traditional artistic conventions of academic landscape painting, such as the Ideal, the Pastoral, and the Heroic, artists in the Barbizon School strived instead to depict an unmediated vision of nature. The Barbizon region of France appealed to these artists for both its diverse landscapes and its reputation as an unspoiled natural haven. The visual respite of the rural scenes painted by the artists of the Barbizon school--often depicting a harmonious
relationship between man and nature--seemed to offer a much-desired antidote to the ills of modern industrialization.

This exhibition is part of the Museum's Focus Series. From its very beginnings in 1881 the museum's collection has focused largely on the work of contemporary artists, and many of the works in this exhibition were acquired shortly after their creation. More than a dozen works on view--by Corot, Durand, Inness and others--arrived in 1905 as part of a major bequest from St. Louis banker Charles Parsons. Recent conservation to remove old, yellowed varnish from several of the paintings has revealed their original intensity of color.

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Featured Artists

Jean Charles Cazin, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Charles François Daubigny, Narcisse Virgile Diaz de la Peña, Jules Dupré, Julien Dupré, Asher B. Durand, François Louis Français, Henri Harpignies, Sanford R. Gifford, Winslow Homer, William Henry Howe, George Inness, Charles Emile Jacque, Eastman Johnson, Johan Barthold Jongkind, John F. Kensett, Léon Lhermitte, Emile van Marcke de Lummen, Anton Mauve , Jean-François Millet, Léon Germain Pelouse, Camille Jacob Pissarro, Theodore Robinson, Theodore Rousseau, Constant Troyon, Dwight William Tryon, Alexander Helwig Wyant

Selected works