Jules Dupré (born 5 April 1811 – died 6 October 1889) is a 19th century French painter, one of the founders and key representatives of the Barbizon school. The work of Jules Dupre became an important stage in the development of modern French landscape, therefore in his homeland he is considered one of the most significant artists of the century. Among the paintings of this author, realistic village and forest landscapes, painted from life in the vicinity of Paris or on the Normandy coast, prevail.
Jules Dupre was born on April 5, 1811 in Nantes in western France. His father was a ceramist and director of a porcelain manufactory. From the age of 12, the boy tried his hand at painting porcelain, developing his artistic skills. His younger brother, Leon-Victor Dupre, also became a landscape painter, but less famous. The brothers did not receive a serious education in the field of drawing and painting, studying on their own.
Jules Dupre seriously decided to devote himself to art in 1829 – by that time he was already living in Paris. He briefly worked in the workshop of Jean-Marie Diébolt and honed his technique while studying the work of the classics at the Louvre. He admired the work of Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, Claude Lorrain and Theodore Gericault. Independent exits to the open air and communication with contemporaries close in spirit, including Narcisse Diaz De La Pena, were important for the formation of the artist’s style.
Jules Dupre’s atmospheric landscapes quickly won the sympathy of the audience. Already in 1831, at the age of twenty, he successfully exhibited five works in the Paris Salon, and found the first buyers even earlier. The salon of 1833 brought the master a second class medal. Art critic Clarence Cook called Dupre’s paintings “rural poetry that evokes calm and happy thoughts, evoking warmth in the public heart.”
Exhibiting at the Salons, Jules Dupre met Théodore Rousseau, the main ideological inspirer of the Barbizon school.
Often these painters went to the open air together, their friendship occupies an important place in the creative biography of both. Another significant stage in the artist’s development was a trip to Great Britain and an acquaintance with the classics of the English landscape, especially with the works of John Constable. Certain artistic techniques of the Briton can be traced in many of Dupre’s works.
Having quickly found his calling, the artist continued to improve it year after year. He preferred to lead a secluded life and often went to rural areas for several months. Buyers of paintings were quickly, so Jules Dupre did not seek to actively exhibit. Among the largest exhibitions in which he participated, one can name the World in 1867 and the National in 1883. By old age, the landscape painter settled in L’Ile-Adam, where his father was from, and rarely left this town near Paris. He died on October 6, 1889 from complications after surgery.
Jules Dupre was married to Stéphanie-Augustine Moreau and the couple had three children. The painter also had a daughter from Marie Laugée, Therese-Marthe-Francoise Cotard-Dupre. She also became an artist. The work of this landscape painter has influenced many. For example, Vincent Van Gogh mentions his name in his correspondence with his brother about 60 times. Currently, the largest collection of paintings by Dupre is kept in the Louvre and other museums in France. Also, his work can be seen in London, Amsterdam, New York, Moscow and St. Petersburg.
The most famous paintings by Jules Dupre
Jules Dupre’s paintings have changed little over time. These are always realistic, but emotional landscapes that evoke good feelings. Evolution can be traced in the color scheme: in the early works there are often dramatic contrasts, and in the later ones the coloring becomes more calm and harmonious. Here are some of the famous works of the author:
- “Landscape with Cattle in Limousin” (1837). This early landscape, with its striking contrast of light and shadow, is influenced by John Constable. The painting is kept in the Metropolitan Museum.
- Fontainebleau Oaks (c. 1840). The old forest of Fontainebleau with spreading oak trees has become a favorite place for representatives of the Barbizon school. Jules Dupre also painted this forest and its surroundings.
- Forest Landscape (1840s). The mature work from the Hermitage collection reflects well the author’s style. There is no complex composition in it, but there is attention to detail and mood. This approach is called “intimate landscape”.
- “Landscape with Cows” (1870s). This late painting with skilfully painted skies, delicate colors and warm colors is also kept in the Hermitage.