Starting page




On this page you will find info on the painters who inspired the Impressionists, also known as the Pre-Impressionists. First you will find a starting page with links. Furtheron you will find short info on Valenciennes and the 17th century Dutch landscapists.


Starting page:
On this starting page you will find links to the Pre-Impressionists. Maybe the most important Pre-Impressionist was -/- Jongkind, to whom I dedicate a seperate page. Important also were the painters from the school of Barbizon (who painted in and near the forest of Fontainebleau) and especially Corot. See also the links to the -/- school of Honfleur and the -/- English landscapists.
Also important was -/- Courbet, the leading figure of -/- Realism. Realism, is an art-movement that started before the Impressionists and inspired them and therefor can be seen as a pre-impressionist art-movement. But it also coinsides in time next to Impressionism. Therefor you will find it on this web-site under Para-Impressionism
You also will find links to more info on Wikipedia (=iR3) and pictures on (=iR2) and Wikimedia (=iR6). See here for the general references (=R) and here for the references to internet pages (=iR). See here for explanation of the subscription of the paintings.


Landscape painting in the 17th and 18th century in France:
Important landscape painters in the 17th and 18th century in France were Claude Lorain (1600ca.-1682) and Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665). There landscapes had a predominantly mythological and historical character. Roger de Piles in 1708 called these landscapes heroic landscapes and discerned it from the pastoral landscapes. (R290,p11).


Valenciennes, his influence on landscape painting:
Pierre Henri de Valenciennes (1750-1819) was appointed in 1787 as member of the Académie Royale and 1812 onwards he was professor in perspective at the École des Beaux-Arts. Among his students were Jean-Victor Bertin (1767-1842) and Achille Etna Michallon (1796-1822), who both would teach -/- Corot. Michallon had won the first Prix de Rome en Paysage historique in 1817. In 1800 Valenciennes publiced a textbook that was called ‘Elémens de Perspective pratique à l’usage des artistes, suivis de Reflexions et conseils à un Elève sur la Peinture, et particulièrement sur le genre du Paysage’.
In his publication he discerned the ‘paysage historique’ (compare the ‘paysage heroic’ of Roger de Pils). The ‘paysage pastoral’ and the ‘paysage-portrait’. In this ‘paysage-portrait’ the artist renders a faithful representation of nature. Important was to find the charme of romantic spots. In these landscapes the artist depicted seascapes, hunting scenes and battles. In the ‘paysage pastoral’ the artist added his own imagination and memories of travel experiences, thus creating an ideal landscape. After painting the landscape the artist had to add not everyday figures like nymphs.
In his publication Valenciennes also rendered advices on how to paint ‘en-plein-air’. He adviced to paint completely finished paintings outside and not only to make sketches (R290,p8+15). He wrote ‘The light and atmosphere in a landscape changes too often to allow for comprehensive detailing.’ (R290,p14) He adviced to render the same motive on various times of day, to see how the lighteffects change and even fade out the forms. He adviced to travel much and to paint in different seasons and to study trees, rocks, the sea and the sky.
Maybe influenced by the publication of Valenciennes, there were many courses organised in landscape painting, especially between 1800 and 1830. There also were ‘course d’études’ in which twigs, stones, hedges, foliage and individual plants were elaborated to the smallest detail. In these courses the Dutch landscapists were a source of inspiration, leaving the Italian idealised landscapes with classical monuments in the shades. (R290,p29+32).
Other early publications on landscape painting were from C.J.F. Lecarpentier who published in 1817 ‘Essai sur la Peinture’ and Jean-Baptiste Deperthes who published in 1818 ‘Théorie de paysage’. Lecarpentier (1744-1822) called landscape painting the most attractive genre in painting. Deperthes (1761-1833) pleaded for an idependant position of the landscapist. He wrote that the history painter just used the landscape as a backdrop. For the explicit form of what he called ‘paysage champêtre’ one could study nature a lifetime to become a good landscapist. He thought it would interest a larger part of the population.
All these writers refer to the 17th century Dutch landscapists as inspiration.
(My main sources are: R290,p1-20;)


Dutch landscapists (17th century):
The 17th century Dutch landscapists painted nature in a more realistic and every day style, rendering the effects of light (R60,p51). Some of their paintings were to be seen in the Louvre (especially when it was called the Musée Napoléon till 1815), at private collections, through many collecions of etchings and by visiting the musea in the Netherlands.
Troyon visited Holland in 1847. To him the works of Aelbert Cuyp (1620-91) were a revelation. It made him decide to become a painter of cattle. Rousseau collected many etchings, including of Dutch landscapists like Adriaen van Ostade (1610-85) and Willem van de Velde (1633-1707).  It is known that several Barzizon painters copied the old Dutch masters. Le buisson of Jacob van Ruisdael (1628/9-1682) for example was copied by many artists. Huet wrote ‘Ruisdael enchants you and drags you along in sweet dreams’ (R290,p34). Also Rembrant (1606-69) and Johannes Vermeer (1632-75)  were admired for their straightforward portrayal of everyday life, without mythological trivia (R290,p8). Other 17th century Dutch landscapists were: Meindert Hobbema (1638-1709); Paulus Potter .
(Main sources: R290,p21-34;R60)



My main sources are Sillevis (1985=R290). See the link for other general References (=Rx) and to the internet references (=iRx).



Recommanded citation: “Pre-Impressionism; starting page. Last modified 2022/07/01.