This painting by Charles Leroux is quite exceptional as it has been in the artist's family since his death in 1895, and also testifies to a fundamental period of the Barbizon School. Born in 1814, grandson of a Marine officer who fought in the army of the Marquis de Rochambeau during the American War of Independence, Charles Leroux was wealthy enough to ensure that he could develop his passion for painting free of material constraints. During his lifetime, Leroux became a known patron and friend of the main painters of the Barbizon School such as Camille Corot, Théodore Rousseau, Gustave Doré, and Charles-François Daubigny and would exhibit them at the Salon. It is rare that a work of this importance by Leroux is made available on the market, for as part of the artist's wishes, his descendants have faithfully guarded the majority of his oeuvre.
Chemin dans le bois au souliers represents one of the three wooded alleys that led to Leroux's vast property of Le Souliers, near Brèssuire, where the Barbizon painters would often visit and paint with him. Aptly, it was precisely one of these three alleys at Le Chateau du Souliers that Rousseau immortalised his masterpiece L'Allée des Chataigniers, painted during the months he spent there with Charles Leroux in 1837 and now in the Musée du Louvre in Paris. It is quite possible that Leroux and Rousseau were working on these paintings at the same time. Both works, with their labyrinth of twisted branches, exemplify the sort of naturalist romanticism that concerned both artists at the time and are testimony to the friendships among the Barbizon painters as well as to their pioneering approach to the French landscape.