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Charles-Francois Daubigny
(French, 1817–1878)
Moonrise
c. 1859 – 78
oil on panel, 14 5/8" x 25 1/4"
Gift of Alice Tweed Tuohy

The dark drama of large trees, rock formations and dense forests typically associated with Barbizon painting are absent in the work of Daubigny, who preferred quieter, less conspicuous scenes, most often those along the Seine, Oise and Marne rivers of northern France. In order to get as close as possible to his subject, after 1857 Daubigny painted on an improvised studio boat, dubbed Le Botin (The Little Box). Moonrise depicts the landscape at a particular time of day to express a mood of quiet and repose. Daubigny uses a muted palette of mauve, tan, olive green and aquamarine, with a bit of violet along the horizon, to capture the fleeting nature of dusk and to construct the landscape using large color shapes. A rising full moon, above which can be seen the Evening Star, further describe the time of day and the visual transition of the landscape from waning sunlight, to moon and starlight. When he exhibited a work titled Moonrise in the Salon of 1877, the critic Jules Castagnary noted about Daubigny that “this artist becomes more daring as he grows older.” Constructed with large, choppy strokes of fluid paint, this work and others like it clearly demonstrate why Daubigny’s approach to landscape served as a model for Impressionism, which by the 1880s had all but eclipsed the efforts of the Barbizon school artists.

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