The name Barbizon probably reads like a commercial label to most readers. Is it a modeling agency? And acting school? First and foremost, it’s a location in France where artists congregated to paint.
Back in 1824, the English landscape painter, John Constable exhibited his work in the Paris Salon, revolutionizing the vision of his French contemporaries. In their experience, landscape painting had been executed in the studio to produce idealized, classically balanced compositions. But Constable painted what he saw, including natural irregularities, with a spontaneous touch, with wading cows and waddling geese, manure heaps and changing weather, with all the freshness of the outdoors. Fast forward to the turmoil of the 1848 Revolution and French painters left Paris and congregated in rural Barbizon, setting up their easels under umbrellas and painting what they saw. “Plein air” or outdoor painting was born in France and artists like Corot, Rousseau and Millet worked on the canvases that presently grace our museums and private collections.
Today, as I looked out the window, there was still an easel with an umbrella to keep the glare off canvas, being worked below the entrance to our monastic church. No, we haven’t attracted an artists’ colony. Over this past weekend local painters have been invited to celebrate our landscape in connection with the film, Saving Grace, Saving Place, on the initiative by Geroge Patterson and Deidra Dain. The painters are invited to record their impressions of the beauty of this place and to mount an exhibit at the Barnes of Rose Hill in Berryville. The opening of the exhibit is scheduled for Saturday, 18 June, 5:00 to 7:00 PM, admission free. It will close Saturday, 2 July with an auction of the works exhibited to support the completion of the film.
Deidra Dain commented, “All the painters (without exception) thoroughly enjoyed their time painting at the monastery. We heard people express how inspired they felt with words like ‘serene’ and ‘gift.’ The creations are breathtaking with a splendid variety of styles and perspectives.”
This weekend’s event has been ably organized by local artist Ron Heath, who directed the participants to their locations, maximizing their opportunities for work and minimizing their impact on the monastic environment. Ron’s job was so accomplished than no one in the community would have been aware of the visitors to our property had it not been for the sign on our bulletin board.