The Barbizon school of painters was known for their emphasis on realism, rural scenes and the immediacy of nature. Many of them would place their subject, in fact take as their subject, the forests and fields of the Fontainebleau Forest near the village of Barbizon, but others would turn to alternate locales and painter Charles Francois Daubigny, though considered a Master of the Barbizon school, was one such individual. He preferred the riverside scenery of the Seine and the plains around the village of Auver-sur-Oise, which would eventually become his permanent home.
Daubigny was born in 1817 to a family of painters, but of no wealth, and his education was mostly self-taught. He worked as an illustrator and engraver for travel books and magazines. He would also gain some knowledge as a restorer of paintings in the Louvre, but in 1835 he received a small scholarship that allowed him to travel to Italy for a brief period of study.
During this time he continued his work for books and magazines, and his personal style began to show through and he attracted the attention of some art critics. Throughout this time as well he had been regularly sending highly detailed landscapes to the Salon, but had yet to be accepted. His attempts at the Rome Prize also met with failure, but in 1840 he was finally admitted to the Salon.
He continued his painting and study, studying under Paul Delaroche for a short time, and continuing his professional work in publishing. By 1843 he had begun to work in the Fontainebleau region, and was soon befriended many of those who would come to be known as painters of the Barbizon school, including Jules Dupr�, Th�odore Rousseau, and Alexandre-Gabriel Decamps.
His most significant friendship however would be that of Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot. The two would often sketch outdoors in areas far beyond the Barbizon. During this period Daubigny enjoyed tremendous success, which allowed him to purchase his boat "Le Botin" which became his floating studio. He traversed the Seine and Orse and eventually settled in Auvers in 1860.
From 1848 - 1859 Daubigny was a regular winner at the Paris Salon and by the 1860s was a member of the jury. At this time he began to defend the work of the young Impressionists, whose work his own had greatly influenced. It was his "naturalist" tendencies and his ability to capture the effects of nature, not rearrange it to suit his artistic needs, as well as his use of light and weather to depict a subject that made him a precursor of the Impressionist movement.
Arthritis during the last years of his life greatly reduced his productivity, and he died in Paris in 1878.