Art: The Voices of the Trees

The last major show anywhere in the world of the French landscapists known as the Barbizon school took place in Manhattan in 1889—and shortly after that came the deluge. Successive waves of impressionism, cubism, and finally abstractionism swept them from museum walls and sent their prices sinking in the auction houses. What had been considered fresh and vigorous, later generations found sentimental and dull. But lately the Barbizon school has been undergoing another re-evaluation—upward. Currently on a tour of U.S. museums is the biggest Barbizon exhibition—113 paintings—since that Manhattan show 73 years ago (see color).

Thomas Howe, director...

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