Narcisse Diaz de la Pena
Narcisse Diaz de la Peña, French landscape and figure painter and founding member of the Barbizon School, was born in 1808 in Bordeaux to Spanish parents who had fled the Peninsular Wars. At 15 he began working as a ceramic painter in a porcelain factory, where he met Jules Dupré. Strongly influenced by Delacroix and the Romantics and attracted by medieval and Middle Eastern art, Diaz often in his early career painted exotic subjects. He showed his paintings in the Paris Salons of the 1830s and 1840s.
Beginning in 1833 Diaz began to explore the forest of Fontainebleau, where he became a regular summer visitor in the following years, forming a close association with Théodore Rousseau and the other landscape painters of what came to be known as the School of Barbizon. Awarded a first-class medal at the Salon of 1848, he was appointed chevalier of the Legion of Honor in 1851. In the early 1860s Diaz was welcoming to the Impressionists, especially Renoir, whom he met painting at Barbizon. At Etretat, where he summered in 1869, he painted seascapes in the company of Gustave Courbet.
Diaz’s work is in numerous collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Louvre and the National Gallery in London.