Art: Father of Impressionism

Until the mid-19th century, nobody looked at a landscape while painting it. An artist could sketch out of doors, but he repaired to his studio to finish his work. Nature, the neoclassicists held, needed ennoblement by man: the faithful reproduction of it was imitation rather than creativity.

Some dissident painters who left Paris for the leafy countryside around Barbizon changed all that. One such artist, Charles Francois Daubigny,* bought a 29-ft. houseboat which he named Le Botin and turned into a floating studio. For 21 years he sailed the waterways of France in...

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