Located in the town of Barbizon, about thirty miles south of Paris, the Barbizon School is where independent landscape artists met during the second half of the nineteenth century.
Fontainebleau forest was the artists' subject, so they met to be able to paint at the scene. Some of the artists came to Barbizon occasionally to meet with Rousseau. Others stayed in Barbizon permanently. The Barbizon School, therefore, did not refer to a set of techniques or beliefs of the artists; rather, it referred to the location where they met.
Rousseau originally left Paris in 1848 to paint in solitude in Barbizon. His work was very mystical and combined the styles of English Romanticism and Dutch. Other artists joining Rousseau in Barbizon included Jean-Francois Millet, Diaz de la Pena, Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot, Jules Dupre, Charles-Francois Daubigny, Jacques Raymond Brascassat, Constant Troyon, Antoine Barye, Honore Daumier, Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, Gustave Courbet, Ion Andreesco, Nicolae Grigoresco, Camille van Camp, Victor de Papelen, Karl Bodmer, and William Morris Hunt. The artists were from different countries and shared the desire to paint different scenes of the forest.
Some examples of work by the Barbizon artists now located at the Louvre include "Forest Clearing at Fontainebleau" (painted by Rousseau between the years 1848 and 1850); "Spring" (painted by Millet); and "Heights of Jean-de-Paris" (painted by Diaz de la Pena in 1867). The nickname of Diaz de la Pena was "the Correggio of Barbizon". The writers Henri Murger and the Goncouirt brothers joined the writers. Subjects ranged from the forest itself at different times of the day to various real and imaginary animals such as those painted by Antoine Barye.
The Barbizon School artists were forerunners to Impressionism. Corot, Michel, Hobbema and Ruisdael, along with Constable and Bonington all had influence on the artists of the school. Millet expressed his socialist leanings in his work. Works by the Barbizon School artists are in Boston, London and many other French provincial museums.