Narcisse Virgilio DIAZ DE LA PENA

Bordeaux 1807 - Menton 1876


The son of Spanish émigrés, Narcisse Diaz began his career as a painter of porcelain decoration, and received little fomal artistic training. He first exhibited a painting at the Salon of 1833, at the age of twenty-three, and his earliest works were of nymphs and bathers, as well as of exotic Orientalist subjects. It is as a landscape painter, however, that he was to become best known. In the 1830s, he joined a group of artists who met at the village of Barbizon in the forest of Fontainebleau to paint closely from nature. One of these, Théodore Rousseau, although five years younger than Diaz, was to become his mentor, and one of his closest friends. Recognized as a brilliant colourist, Diaz enjoyed a reasonably successful career. He drew somewhat less than most of his fellow Barbizon artists, however, and seems to have only seldom made drawings en plein-air. After 1859, the year of his last submission to the Salon, Diaz retired to Fontainebleau, although he continued to hold regular auctions of his work; a novel practice of marketing his work that he had begun in 1849.