DIAZ DE LA PEÑA, Narcisse Virgile
(b. 1807, Bordeaux, d. 1876, Menton)
French landscape painter of the Barbizon School. He was born of Spanish parents in Bordeaux. His earlier works were Romantic compositions in the manner of Delacroix, but later he became a painter of the forest. He spent much time at Barbizon and although he is the least exalted of the half-dozen great artists who are usually grouped round that name, he sometimes produced works of the highest quality.
At the age of ten Diaz became orphan, and misfortune dogged his earlier years. His foot was bitten by reptile in Meudon wood, near Sèvres, where he had been taken to live with some friends of his mother. The bite was badly dressed, and ultimately it cost him his leg. Afterwards his wooden stump became famous. About 1831 Diaz encountered Theodore Rousseau, four years his junior. At Fontainebleau, Diaz found Rousseau painting his wonderful forest pictures, and determined to paint in the same way.
Diaz exhibited many pictures at the Paris Salon, and was decorated in 1851. During the Franco-German War he went to Brussels. After 1871 he became fashionable, his works gradually rose in the estimation of collectors.