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Pastoral Scene, 1870

Artist: Jules Dupre, French, 1811 - 1889

Medium: Oil on canvas

Painting: 23 5/8 x 27 3/4 in. (60 x 70.5 cm)
Frame: 32 3/8 x 36 1/2 x 3 1/4 in. (82.2 x 92.7 x 8.3 cm)

Credit Line: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Morrie A. Moss

Object Number: 59.29

On View

James Graham & Sons, New York, New York, 1955; Mr. and Mrs. Morrie A. Moss, Memphis, Tennessee, 1959

Jules Dupre was one of the principal members of the Barbizon school, which changed the traditional concept of landscape painting in France in the 19th century. Soon after Dupre left his work as a porcelain painter in 1829, he joined with artists such as Théodore Rousseau, Jean-Baptiste-Camille-Corot, and Charles-François Daubigny painting en plein air (out of doors) in the forests of Fountainebleau in the 1830s and 1840s. Initially trained as an industrial artist, Dupre took study trips to Paris and Great Britain to help develop his innate talent. His work was heavily influenced by 17th-century Dutch landscapes and their direct and realistic observation of nature and humanity. These qualities were also evident in the innovative work of British painter John Constable, whom Dupre studied intently while in London. This same approach was adopted by the Barbizon painters in response to the idealized and classically composed landscapes preferred by the French Academy.

 

Over the course of his career, Dupre’s work ranged from dramatic seascapes to quietly romantic rural scenes with cottages, cattle, or winding streams. Pastoral Scene was painted during the latter part of his life when the artist resided at L’Isle-Adam, north of Paris, and spent his summers along the coast at Cayeux sur Mer. With its low horizon line, towering silhouetted tree, and enormous expanse of cloud-dappled sky that dwarfs the figures and animals, this work is reminiscent of earlier Dutch compositions. Although Dupre employed free and direct brushwork in many of his paintings, the handling of paint in this canvas is more conservative. His small precise strokes denote every leaf on the tree and render minute details in the foreground brush. The sky, which is more loosely applied, sets the atmosphere of the scene and conveys distinct weather conditions in the manner of Constable. In its depiction of the untouched countryside, this picture also reflects a spiritual regard for nature that characterized the work of the Barbizon painters.