Jules Dupre was a primary member of the Barbizon school of painting, which placed an emphasis on nature. The paintings done by this particular group of artists relied upon the landscape as the subject, not simply as the background for an event. They worked mostly outdoors ("en plein air") to accurately capture the weather, light and atmosphere of their scenery.
Dupre began his life as a painter of ceramics, working in his father's factory in Parmain, on the shores of Oise River which would be a fortunate location for the young artist. He would wander the countryside painting and sketching the surrounding landscape. He studied with Jean Michel Diebolt for a short time, learning from the animal and landscape painter, and then relocated with his father to an area near Limoges.
By the time he was twenty he was prepared to debut at the Paris Salon, where a number of his landscapes were accepted. During this same period he traveled to England, like others of the later Barbizon school, to experience the landscape and scenery painted by the English artists so popular with some French painters. Dupre is often credited with introducing the English landscape into the French style, affectively blending the two into his Barbizon landscapes.
Three years after his very first Salon exhibit he was awarded a second class medal, and again two years later he exhibited work that further cemented his reputation. It was almost from his first exhibition however that he had gained public favor and popularity due to his departure from the epic scale and grandeur of many popular subjects to the quiet pastures and sleepy villages of the countryside.
Though famous and well loved, the artist spent the majority of his life in isolation, befriending some notable fellow painters such as Rousseau and Millet, but traditionally keeping to himself. He exhibited through the 1880s, and died in October of 1889.
He is considered one of the most influential painters of the nineteenth century, and many of his works are in the collections of major museums around the world.