Impressionism and Open-Air Painting


Rocks appear in the earliest examples of landscape paintings. The first separate studies of rocks were painted in Italy in the late 18th century but it was the Barbizon School which made this motif a pre-eminent one, and it is not by chance that those painters chose to depict the Forest of Fontainebleau, where rock formations account for around a quarter of the surface area. These painters imbued their images with a sense of melancholy, solitude and devastation. In contrast, for American artists art and geology often went hand in hand. Towards the end of the 19th century Cézanne returned to the motif of rocks in order to analyse spatial construction without resorting to shading or perspective.

Paysanne en Fontainebleau

Camille Corot Paysanne en fôret de Fontainebleau, c.1845

Oil on paper mounted on canvas. 26.5 x 39.1 cm.
Museé d'Art et d'Archéologie, Senlis. France

Peñascos en el bosque

Paul Cézanne Forest with Boulders, c.1893

Oil on canvas. 51 x 61 cm.
Kunsthaus Zurich, Zurich. Switzerland
Bequest of Dr. Hans Schuler, 1920

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