In the time of Hals, Rembrandt and Vermeer, painters made their own paint by mixing oil, pigment and turpentine. The palette of the golden age therefore consists of earthy colors, such as ocher and umber. Because the paint dried out quickly, they usually used the paint immediately; The paint could only be stored for a short time in pig's bladders.
Already around 1822, Jean Baptiste Camille Corot painted the rock formations in the wild forests near Fontainebleau around the village of Barbizon. During the summer, Corot made small oil sketches on canvas, which he expanded to a large format in his studio. At the annual salon of 1824, works by the Englishman Constable made a great impression and that inspired Corot to go back and create the work below.
In 1841, the pewter paint tube was invented. This meant that the paint could be stored much better and could therefore be taken with it, and painters went out more often. Barbizon attracted painters from all over Europe such as Millet, Rousseau and Daubigny. They painted the forests and farmland in the open air, especially after a railway line ran there from 1849 and the village became accessible from Paris within half a day.
With industrialization, new, lighter pigments that were created by chemical processes also came onto the market. Monet and Renoir were the first to use the new colors in their impressionist paintings with, for example, cadmium yellow and viridian. Colorful paintings are therefore not only due to changing tastes, but also to the introduction of these new pigments.
Théodore Rousseau settled in Barbizon from 1848 and made entire paintings en plein air. He worked in the melancholic tradition of romanticism of, for example, Caspar David Friedrich. Rousseau's work had been rejected for the Salon for years in a row from 1836 onwards, but in 1849 three paintings were accepted and he was also allowed to show older work during the 1853 World Exhibition.
Following Rousseau, Troyon, Dupré, Virgilio Díaz and Daubigny, Jean-François Millet also settled in Barbizon. Millet did not focus on landscapes but on farm life. He showed poverty and hard work on his canvases. These works were very successful and were an inspiration for Vincent van Gogh and many others.