Charles Daubigny was born in Paris on Feb. 15, 1817. His father, Edmé François Daubigny, was a landscape painter, and his uncle and aunt were miniaturists. Daubigny made the customary trip to Italy (1835-1836) and did some ideal landscapes, but his eventual direction was more decisively shaped by Dutch landscape painting. In 1838 he enrolled as a student of the academic painter Paul Delaroche.
Although Daubigny enjoyed a reasonable success at the Salons, where he exhibited from 1838 on, graphic art in the form of etchings, woodcuts, lithographs, and illustrations contributed substantially to his income. After 1844 his reputation as a painter increased greatly. He admired and was inspired by Constable after a visit to England. After exhibiting at the Salon of 1857 he was made a Chevalier of the Legion d’Honneur. Daubigny exhibited four river scenes at the RA between 1866 and 1870. He was then commissioned to decorate the stairway at the rooms of the Ministry of State at the Louvre, and was made an Officer of the Legion d’Honneur in 1874. His health declined gradually and he died in 1878. Pond with Storks (ca. 1851), with its painstaking analytical detail, is a representative Barbizon school work; it also echoes Dutch art of the 17th century. Some of Daubigny’s rarely seen drawings, such as River Landscape (ca. 1860), have an astonishingly light, airy, and evocative touch.
Daubigny painted in the forest of Fontainebleau near Barbizon, along the rivers of northern France, and on the coast. He assimilated many sources and worked in many different manners.
The Pond of Gylieu (1853), balanced, meticulous in execution, and suffused with soft light, was a particularly popular picture. The Lock at Optevoz (1859), done in blocky masses and heavier impasto, is reminiscent of Gustave Courbet. Daubigny’s Banks of the Oise and Seine which is more delicate and luminous, gives a foretaste of Alfred Sisley. In contrast, the heaviness and dark greens of Landscape near Pontoise (1866) call to mind the work of Camille Pissarro. Intimate forest pictures such as this current landscape (1850), executed in softer greens with a fluttery touch, illustrate the persistence of Camille Corot’s influence.
Daubigny, whose work was considered to be too much a matter of “impressions,” gave help and encouragement to Claude Monet, who followed him even in the practice of using a houseboat as a floating studio.
– Georges Petit, Paris;
– A.J. Antelo, Philadelphia;
– P. and A. Rosenbach Foundation, Philadelphia
– Douwes Fine Art BV, 1970’s; private Dutch collection
– Amsterdam, Douwes Fine Art BV, “Autour de Barbizon”, 1985, nr. 1.
– M. Fidell/J. Bailly, Paris, 1975, no. 17
– R. Hellebranth, Paris 1976, no. 486