• 1) first it is a big forest and second it is not very far from Paris: "One of the largest French forests with its 25 000 hectares, the Fontainebleau forest, 50 km south of Paris by the A6 freeway, is a favorite of Parisian alpinists, who can train there on weekends. Its rocky hills (above) make it the perfect training ground before going for real to the Alps in the summer. The Fontainebleau forest is as well a favourite destination for everyone wanting to escape the hustle of Paris for a day." Source and further information: 2) "In the picturesque forest of Fontainebleau during the mid-19th century, you sometimes couldn't see the trees for the artists. Although tamed by recreational use, the vast, 42,000-acre tract south of Paris was still wild enough to lend itself to romantic visions and raw impressions of nature, making it a prime hangout for painters and photographers. One of them was Eugene Cuvelier (1837-1900), an obscure young photographer from Arras (famous for tapestries and Robespierre), for whom the forest -- a hunting ground for royalty in earlier times -- was a favorite stalking place. The bulk of Cuvelier's work has only recently come to light, and a choice display of some 45 prints at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is the first ever devoted to this gifted lensman, who rarely exhibited in public. But he was an important influence -- and vice versa -- on Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot, the Barbizon painter who also frequented the forest, and whose current retrospective at the Met the Cuvelier show accompanies. A painter turned on to photography by his father, a businessman with artistic leanings, the younger Cuvelier wandered through Fontainebleau during the 1850's and 60's shooting all that the forest had to offer: trees, paths, marshes, bleak outcroppings of rock and stretches of desertlike sand, along with subtle effects of light and ambiance. Although he photographed a few other sites, notably his hometown and the little village of Barbizon on the forest's outskirts, where artists met, Fontainebleau was his real milieu. And he captured it in many moods: dark and somber, misty and romantic, majestic and remote, up close and intimate." Source and further information: 3) Fontainebleau - at least its castle - had also been at an earlier time a center of artistic activity:
  • The Forest of Fontainebleau is quite near to Paris at 60 km southeast. It has an area of 280 km² (108 sq mi) and is located primarily in the arrondissement of Fontainebleau in the southwestern part of the department of Seine-et-Marne. I am sure they enjoyed and inspired with the great amount and diversion of flora and fauna, and the castle in the most beautiful city in the world. It has also served for: The main scene of action of the trilogy Les Fourmis of Bernard Werber. Act 1 (Prologue in the Italian Version) of Verdi's opera "Don Carlos" which is set in this forest.
  • Thank you very much. Excellent, as usual! You answered my question in the first paragraph, but the additional information was most interesting and helpful. I had been looking at the paintings and photographs since 1731 and was pleasantly surprised that the history of artists there extended to the 1500's. I also didn't know there were 2 art schools of Fontainebleau. I have the map of the forest here before me with photographs and paintings, which I'm sure don't do the forest justice. I may have to go there to see for myself!:)

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