I also heard to voices of the trees this whole world of flora lived as deaf-mutes whose signs I devined and whose passions I uncovered: I wanted to talk with them and to be able to tell myself, by this other language - painting - that I had put my finger on the secret of their majesty. -Theodore Rousseau
In the 1830s, the young Rousseau became aware of the English romantic painters, particularly John Constable and Richard Parkes Bonnington. In 1832, Rousseau traveled extensively in Normandy and Brittany and the following year received his first public recognition through the purchase of a painting exhibited at the Salon by the Duc d'Orleans. During the winter of 1833-34, the artist spent his first significant period of time at Fontainebleau.
The Forest at Fontainebleau was painted early in the artist's career, and represents all the elements of the foundation of the Barbizon School of painting. Clearly working outdoors and sketching and painting directly from nature, even early on in his stay at Barbizon, Rousseau was able to capture on this small canvas the grandeur of nature in its raw form, from the play of light and shadows from the changing sky on the ancient trees and meadow to the dwarfing of the figure and his flock into the darkness in the foreground.
This work has been authenticated by Galerie Brame & Lorenceau.