Charles-François Daubigny (Paris, February 15, 1817 - Paris, February 19, 1878) was one of the painters of the Barbizon school, and is considered an important precursor of impressionism.
Daubigny was born in a family of painters and was taught the art by his father Edmond François Daubigny and his uncle, miniaturist Pierre Daubigny.
Initially Daubigny painted in a traditional style, but this changed after 1843 when he settled in Barbizon to work outside in nature. Even more important was his meeting with Camille Corot in 1852 in Optevoz (Isère). On his famous boat Botin, which he had turned into a studio, he painted along the Seine and Oise, often in the region around Auvers. From 1852 onwards he got under the influence of Gustave Courbet, and his style went more and more in the direction of what later would become impressionism.
In 1866 Daubigny visited England, and he returned because of the Franco-Prussian war in 1870. In London he met Claude Monet, and together they left for the Netherlands. Back in Auvers, he met Paul Cézanne, another important impressionist. It is assumed that these younger painters have been influenced by Daubigny.
Daubigny's finest pictures were painted between 1864 and 1874, and these for the most part consist of carefully completed landscapes with trees, river and a few ducks. It has curiously been said, yet with some appearance of truth, that when Daubigny liked his pictures himself he added another duck or two, so that the number of ducks often indicates greater or less artistic quality in his pictures. One of his sayings was, "The best pictures do not sell," as he frequently found his finest achievements little understood. Yet although during the latter part of his life he was considered a highly successful painter, the money value of his pictures since his death has increased nearly tenfold. Daubigny is chiefly preferred in his riverside pictures, of which he painted a great number, but although there are two large landscapes by Daubigny in the Louvre, neither is a river view. They are for that reason not so typical as many of his smaller Oise and Seine pictures.
His most ambitious canvases are: "Springtime" (1857), in the Louvre; "Borde de la Cure", Morvan (1864); "Villerville sur Mer" (1864); "Moonlight" (1865); "Andrsy sur Oise" (1868); and "Return of the Flock" (1878).
His followers and pupils included his son Karl (who sometimes painted so well that his works are occasionally mistaken for those of his father, though in few cases do they equal his father's mastery), Oudinot, Delpy and Damoye.