Interestingly, the first group of painters to work outdoors to capture their subjects was the group of French painters who would become known as the Barbizon School.
Painting "en plein air" had not been a traditional method of creating landscapes; generally only "sketches" were made at the scene and then used to methodically recreate the image in the studio setting.
Additionally, prior to the Barbizon painters, the landscape was only a setting for the actual subject of the painting, or a symbolic and idealized image, and never the entire subject of the work. Once the Barbizon School came into existence however, the experience of nature was the subject.
Working in the Fontainebleau Forest and its environs, painters such as Camille Corot, Francois Millet, Theodore Rousseau, and Charles Daubigny began to record the changing seasons, the subtle effects of light and atmosphere on their scenes, and quite often the rural peasants who inhabited this world, such as Millet's famous work "The Gleaners".
Such realism was unheard of in mid-nineteenth century art, though the paintings of John Constable in the early 1800s had inspired many young painters to reexamine the landscape and formal techniques of the day. The works of the Barbizon painters directly challenged the prevalent Romanticism of the age, and initiated an entirely new era in art.
Additional members of the Barbizon School were Jules Dupr�, Narcisse Virgilio Diaz, Charles Olivier de Penne, Henri Harpignies, Albert Charpin, Felix Ziem, Fran�ois-Louis Fran�ais and Alexandre DeFaux. Many other painters would be inspired by the Barbizon school and travel to the region to experience it for themselves. Subsequently, the key figures in the movement would take on students from other countries who then perpetuated their own version of the Barbizon-style landscape upon their return home. This is the reason that the Barbizon School is considered one of the most influential movements in the world of art.