The Painter’s Barge at the Ile de Vaux on the Oise River
Charles François Daubigny ( French, 1817 - 1878 )
A pioneer of plein-air painting, Charles François Daubigny was among the first artists to complete landscapes entirely outdoors before the motif. In order to capture the fleeting effects of light and atmosphere, he developed a naturalistic style based on loose, rapidly applied brushstrokes. Daubigny was particularly fascinated with light reflecting off water, converting a flat-bottomed barge into a floating studio from which he painted the rivers of the Ile de France. Here, he depicts his studio boat against a small island on the banks of the Oise at sunset. The luminous palette, sensitive rendering of light, and innovative composition, in which two-thirds of the landscape is sky and water, were wildly popular with Daubigny’s critics and collectors.
Daubigny’s emphasis on plein-air paintings and sketchlike aesthetic laid the groundwork for Impressionism. In the 1860s and 1870s, Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Alfred Sisley, and Berthe Morisot each emulated his work. Monet was perhaps most deeply inspired by Daubigny’s example, buying his own studio boat in 1873 in order to paint the river Seine, as seen in The Seine at Lavacourt (1938.4.M).
Nicole Myers, DMA label copy, 2017.