My personal history with the Forest of Fontainebleau south of Paris began long before my first photographic trip there in 1986. During my youth, while living near Paris, I came to the forest on boy scout campouts, or bivouacs. Traveling by train to Melun on the same tracks that took Millet and Jacques to the region in 1849, we probed the dark interiors of this ancient forest and climbed its boulders. It was while I was in middle school in France that I took up photography as more than a hobby. While I used my photographs as a source for my painting in school, the camera proved more interesting and satisfied my own exploratory nature. As a professional photographer and art historian, I reflect back on the Fontainebleau Forest as the birthplace and source of my ideas and concepts about the meaning of place.


This photographic project began in 1986, and is a study of the sites and ‘beaux coins’ in the Forest of Fontainebleau. While documenting the places of notable historical and natural significance, I wanted to capture the poetic qualities of the forest – qualities which have attracted artists and poets since the eighteenth century. I was always aware of those artists and writers who preceded me, many of whom formed the Barbizon School of painting in the nineteenth century.


This body of work, which spans a period of a decade of numerous trips is divided into various categories, much like the forest itself. These are: Barbizon et ses environs; sites biens connues; arbres remarquables et sous-bois; les rochers; les mares; and points de vue. Many of the places photographed for this series, especially in the nineteenth century, were frequented by painters, photographers, poets, writers and tourists. La Mare aux Fées (Pond of the Fairies) was painted by Théodore Rousseau, photographed by Charles Famin and written about by Flaubert. Jean-François Millet and Gustave LeGray walked among the woods of the Bas-Bréau. The quality of the light, the texture of the moss-covered boulders, and the sounds of the forest, to which these artists had a poetic response, stimulated me in my own promenades with my 8x10” view camera.

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