The rooms contain French paintings from the 1830s to 1870s, most of which, including those of Jean-Baptist-Camille Corot and the Barbizon School, come from the collection of Sergei Mikhailovich Tretyakov. The exhibits give a full picture of the development of landscape painting in this period, almost up to Impressionism.
A group of young artists led by Theodore Rousseau began to work in the open air in the hamlet of Barbizon not far from Paris, on the edge of the Forest of Fontainebleau. Each of the members of the so-called Barbizon School possessed his own pictorial manner, but they were all united by their love of the French countryside. Rousseau liked painting gnarled trees and gentle hills, while Jules Dupre, Constant Troyon and Virgile Narcisse Diaz de la Pena preferred fleeting states of the sky. One of the second generation of Barbizon painters, Charles-Frangois Daubigny, who travelled along the Seine and the Oise in a boat converted into a floating studio, was skilled at conveying special light effects at different times of the day.
As a rule, the Barbizon painters worked outside in natural conditions, often selecting the most ordinary landscape motifs. Only their large canvases intended for exhibition at the Salon were finished in the studio.
France's greatest landscapist of the mid-nineteenth century, Camille Corot, also worked in Barbizon for a while, although his art differs in many respects from the experiments of the school. At the beginning of his career he went on a creative journey to Italy as was the custom in those days, yet he saw it through the eyes of the new age. He was attracted by everyday town life, casual passers-by, fleeting moments. Many of Corot's landscapes possess a lyricism engendered by his direct perception, his sensitive response to what he saw. The artist preferred changing states, dying sunsets, sudden gusts of wind, stormy weather, skies clearing after the rain, but, unlike the Romantics, he chose secluded corners of nature, surrounded by trees with rustling foliage and outlines that melt in a misty haze. The human figure in his landscapes serves as a kind of barometer for determining the mood of the landscape image.