Hippolyte Boulenger was not the first artist that fell under the charm of the natural beauty of his direct surroundings. During the mid 19th Century several painters drew inspiration from the landscapes of Tervuren and its beautiful woods, quite like the French painters did at Barbizon. Joseph Coosemans (1828-1904) already lived in Tervuren and Jules Raeymaekers (1833-1904), Jules Montigny (1840-1899) and later Alphonse Asselberghs (1839-1916) would be regular visitors of the artists inn Au Renard. Before the arrival of Boulenger in 1863 a true link between all these painters did not yet exist, except for the common interest of 'plein-airisme'. In 1866 at the Brussels Salon, Boulenger and his friend Julus Raeymaekers baptized themselves as pupils of the 'School of Tervueren', and so the name was launched.
During his first years in Tervuren, Boulenger intended the reproduction of nature - as realistic as possible - in all its diversity. The landscapes were still too thick and the composition too artificial. By 1871 he reached maturity. Boulenger was stimulated by the constant desire to precisely reproduce the atmosphere of nature such as he felt it. This induced a radical revival of Belgian painting. In the same year that 'Etang à Tervueren' was painted, Boulenger realized his masterpiece, 'La Messe de St-Hubert' which shows his passage of observational realism to emotional realism.
What characterizes his art is the way he obtains the fugitive aspect of nature without trying to describe it, through light and colour. The result is not static and intends to suggest the brittleness of the instant by the impetuousness of the touch.