The French term en plein air means “in the open air,” but it’s come to represent the art of painting outdoors on location. Though plein air painting has been practiced for generations by such such as Rembrandt, John Constable, Claude Lorrain, Thomas Gainsborough, and others it was popularized by the French Barbizon School (1830-1870), a movement of painters named after the village of Barbizon, near Fountainbleau Forrest, where artists like Jean-Francois Millet, Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot, Theodore Roysseau, Charles-Francois Daubigny, Jules Dupre, and others gathered to paint. The popularity of plein air painting grew increased with the invention of tubed paint and portable easels in the mid-19th century, and a group of artists who worked outdoors to capture natural light. Claude Monet, Camille Pisarro, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir were among those who promoted painting en plein air. Many French, American, Russian, Chinese, and Canadian impressionists followed the practice, which has endured and become enormously popular today.
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