Narcisse Virgilio Diaz de la Pena
1807- 1876Diaz was born in Bordeaux to Spanish parents. At the age of ten he became an orphan and misfortune dogged his early years.
At fifteen he entered the studios at Sèvres, working in the decoration of porcelain but he later turned to painting. Turkish and Oriental scenes attracted him and he took to painting Eastern figures dressed in richly coloured garments; he also spent much time at Barbizon painting landscapes.
Around 1831 Díaz encountered Théodore Rousseau, for whom he possessed a great veneration, despite the fact that Rousseau was four years his junior. At Fontainebleau Díaz saw Rousseau painting his wonderful forest pictures, and was determined to paint in the same way if possible. He observed his working methods and eventually became his friend.
Díaz exhibited many pictures at the Paris Salon between 1831 and 1859 and was decorated in 1851. After 1871, his works became very fashionable and he became revered as a great Barbizon painter. Diaz also painted some floral subjects. He was a friend of Renoir and his painting style influenced Monticelli and Fantin-Latour, the great still life artist.
Diaz died on 18th November 1876 and in 1881 he posthumously received the Légion d’honneur. His flower paintings can be found in several museums including Grenoble, Marseille, Leeds City Art Gallery, National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh and Glasgow Art gallery.