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Narcisse-Virgile Diaz de la Peña (French, 1808–1876), Forest of Fontainebleau, oil on wood panel, 1858. 19 7/8 x 29 in. Gallery 33
Beginning as a porcelain painter, Diaz de la Peña later found his spiritual approach to nature paintings from his admiration for landscape painter Théodore Rousseau. The two artists actually met in this forest in 1837. The dense growth of trees dominates the canvas, but the bright blue sky peeks out from behind the leaves. A traveler rests near a small pond, easily missed if not for the bold red and blue of her clothing and the beam of sunlight that highlights her arm. The trees, in fact, help frame the center of the painting and the glimpse of sky so that our eyes are led to the figure.
This is a favorite of mine at the TMA – what a great museum – and a treasure for the city –
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