Narcisse Diaz De La Pena

1807 - 1876

Biography

Narcisse Virgilio Diaz de la Peña’s father, Thomas, a bourgeois from Salamanca exiled by King Joseph following a political conspiracy, had settled in Bordeaux with his wife Maria Manuela Belasco. The family then moved to England, believing they could find a safer sanctuary there. However, Thomas died after three years, leaving Maria with sole responsibility for her child’s education. She returned to France, moving to Bordeaux, Montpellier and Lyons in quick succession before finally settling in Paris, where she supported herself and her son by teaching. Narcisse was scarcely ten years old when she died, and he was taken in by a Protestant minister who led a secluded life at Bellevue. He took refuge in solitude, spending time in the woods at Fleury, Meudon, Sèvres and St-Cloud. Whilst out walking, he was bitten by a viper and had to undergo an amputation due to blood poisoning. He initially found employment with a printer, where he worked under particularly difficult conditions, before finding employment in a porcelain factory in Paris. He studied for a while with the painter Souchon, David’s former pupil, although Diaz was largely self-taught. He exhibited for the first time at the Paris Salon in 1831, and then nearly every year from 1834 to 1859, sometimes showing three or even four pictures. In 1831, he exhibited Love Scene. In 1834, he showed Flight of the Turks; A Turk; View of the Region around Saragossa; and Archers Pursuing Wicked Boys. In 1835: the Battle of Medina-Coeli; Spanish Girls Bathing by a River; and Park, Stirling Castle. In 1836, the Adoration of the Shepherds. In 1837: Ferry Crossing with the Effect of the Setting Sun; A Mill, Sunset Effect; and View of the Gorges of Apremont. In 1838: Old Ben Emeck, Retired to Lush Countryside, Tells His Wives the Extraordinary Adventures of His Life as a Pirate. In 1840: Nymphs in Calypso’s Grotto Sing of the Battles of Ulysses; and Women of Algiers. In 1841: The Dream; and Flight into the Desert. In 1844: View of Bas-Bréau; Bohemians Going to a Festival; Evil Spell; and Oriental Woman. In 1845: Portraits of Mme A.; Mme L. L; and Mme de T. In 1846: Deserted Women; Garden of Love; Forest Interior; Enchantress; Leda; Oriental Woman; Desertion; and Wisdom. In 1847: Bas-Bréau; Forest Interior; Dogs in a Forest; Oriental Repose, The Dream; Oriental Woman; Women of Algiers; Conversation; Cupid Waking a Nymph; and Bathing Girl In 1848: Diana Departing for the Hunt; Venus and Adonis; Bohemians Listening to the Predictions of a Young Girl; The Walk; and Pack in the Forest of Fontainebleau. In 1855: Last Tears; Nymph Tormented by Cupid; The Rival; Nymph Asleep; and End of a Beautiful Day. In 1859: Galatea; Cupid’s Education; Venus and Adonis; Cupid Punished; Don’t Come In; Fairy with Toys; Viper Pond; and Portraits of Mme A. F. and Mme S.. Diaz was primarily an independent painter. The essential and characteristic difference between Diaz’s style and that of, say, Théodore Rousseau resides in the fact that Diaz painted the ephemeral. In his woodland scenes, he observes the movements of light and shade over a very small area. By contrast, Rousseau paints vast landscapes, evoking a sense of permanence that corresponds to their dimensions, in which variations of light and shade do not appreciably affect the subject as a whole. Diaz was essentially a painter of the moment, and because of his ‘snapshot’ approach he can be considered a Pre-Impressionist. His influence was far-reaching. Monticelli, who used a knife and depicted forms imprecisely, was influenced by him, as was Fantin-Latour, who adopted the same principles and used no definite structure in his brushwork. Fantin-Latour was a great friend of Renoir, in whose home it wasn’t unusual to find Diaz. Diaz’s colour and design, and even his brushwork, can be found in Ziem’s Venetian extravaganzas and magical oriental worlds. Comprehensive exhibitions of his work have been rare, although he is frequently represented in group exhibitions dedicated to the development of landscape painting or to the Barbizon School. However, the 1877 exhibition at the École National des Beaux-Arts in Paris and the 1968 exhibition at the Pavillon des Arts in Paris are worthy of note.

Museum and Gallery Holdings

Amsterdam: Idyll; Flowers
Amsterdam (Stedelijk Mus.): Flowers; The Wood; Eurydice Wounded
Bayonne: Landscape
Berlin: Forest Interior
Béziers: Landscape
Bordeaux: Forest of Fontainebleau
Chantilly: Mme la Duchesse d’Aumale’s Bedroom Ceiling
Clamecy: Forest Study
Glasgow: In the Forest; Flowers; Flowers
Grenoble: Cupid Disarmed; Portrait of Mme de S.; The Bohemians; Sunset; Cupid’s Tomb; Cupid’s Gifts; Bathing Girl Tourmented by Cupids; Bathing Girls and Cupids
Helsinki: Young Girl
La Rochelle: Narcissus; Virgil; Lost Children
Le Puy-en-Velay: Reading the Novel; Turkish Children
Liège: Landscape
Lille: Cupid Disarmed
London (Wallace Collection): Venus Disarming Cupid (c. 1855, oil/millboard); The Education of Cupid (c. 1855, oil/millboard); A Turkish Foundation (oil on canvas)
Louviers: Children in the Woods
Montpellier: Love Trysts; The Monk; Young Girl; Flowers; Same Subject
Montreal: Last Rays; Forest Walk
Moscow (Rumiantsev Mus.): Venus with Cupid; Pensive Young Girl
Moscow (State Tretyakov Gal.): Autumn at Fontainebleau; Venus with Cupid
Mulhouse: Idyll
Nancy: The Glade
Nantes (MBA): Turkish Riders in Disarray (Déroute de cavaliers turcs)
Paris (Louvre): The Pyrenees; Forest Interior; At the Queen Blanche; The Bohemians; Fairy with Pearls; Don’t Enter; Dogs in the Forest; Nymphs in a Forest Interior; Girls Bathing; The Doghand; The Glade; Venus and Adonis; Venus Disarming Cupid; The Two Rivals; Forest Interior; Forest Interior; Charity; Stricken Woman
Rheims (MBA): Forest Interior; Landscape; Pond on a Moor; Oriental Woman; Forest of Fontainebleau; Stormy Sky; Small Forest Pond; Bad Advice; Woman with Parakeet; Cupid’s Consolation
Rouen: Turkish Children
Stockholm: Venus and Cupid
The Hague (Rijksmus. Hendrik Willem Mesdag): The Pond; Forest of Fontainebleau; Nude; Tempest; Path through the Pyrenees; Nudity
Toulouse: Nymphs and Cupids

Available Artworks

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In The Forest Narcisse Diaz De La Pena

c. 1860
Oil on panel

£5,500.00

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In The Forest
by Narcisse Diaz De La Pena

Washerwoman in the Forest Narcisse Diaz De La Pena

c. 1860
Oil on board

£5,400.00

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Washerwoman in the Forest
by Narcisse Diaz De La Pena

Previously Sold Artworks

Figure in Forest Narcisse Diaz De La Pena

c. 1860
Oil on panel

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Figure in Forest
by Narcisse Diaz De La Pena - Sold

Flowers in a Landscape Narcisse Diaz De La Pena

c. 1860
Oil on panel

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Flowers in a Landscape
by Narcisse Diaz De La Pena - Sold

Worker in The Field Narcisse Diaz De La Pena

c. 1850
Oil on paper laid on panel

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Worker in The Field
by Narcisse Diaz De La Pena - Sold