(b. 1838, Pitaru, d. 1907, Cîmpina)


Romanian painter. From 1848 he trained in Bucharest with various church painters, producing icons and religious mural decorations. These works, which soon attracted attention, were influenced in style by the Viennese classicism widespread in the Romanian principalities in the early 19th century and by the Italian academicism established there after 1850 by Gheorghe Tattarescu (1818-1894).

The earliest of his known paintings are in the church of SS Constantin and Elena at Baicoi, where his signature can be seen on the icon of St George (1853). He subsequently painted a series of icons (1854-55) at Caldarusani Monastery. In the later ensembles he was assisted by his older brother Georghe Grigorescu, who participated under his direction in the decoration of churches, such as those of the Zamfira (1856-58) and Agapia (1858-60) monasteries. In Nicolae's paintings at Agapia, classicism in Romanian art reached its highest point. The royal icons are distinguished for the elegance of the figures, both in their attitudes and in their drapery. The murals include some portraits from life. In the compositions, Grigorescu used engravings after Western masters, but the colouring is entirely his own, as is the harmony created by his luminous tones and, in some places, their aerial transparency. In these early years he also painted some secular works, including a sensitive Self-portrait (c. 1856; Bucharest, National Museum of Arts).

In 1861 he went to Paris on a scholarship from the principality of Moldavia. He studied for a time at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, then stayed for the first time at Barbizon. After visiting his home he returned to Barbizon and Paris in 1864. In 1867 he exhibited at the Paris World Fair, in 1868 he exhibited for the first time at the Paris Salon.

Between 1869 and 1873 he stayed in Bucharest, received a gold medal at the Exhibition of Living Artists, and became the first important Romanian painter of landscapes and rural life. In 1873-74 he traveled to Italy, Athens, Constantinople. In 1876 he visited Paris and Brittany. In 1877-78 he painted the war against Turkey. In 1889 he exhibited again at the Paris World Fair.

In 1890 Grigorescu settled in Cîmpina in the Carpathians where he spent his last years.