Narcisse Virgilio Diaz
August 25, 1807-November 18, 1876) was a French painter of the Barbizon school.
Diaz was born in Bordeaux to Spanish parents. At the age of ten, Diaz became an orphan, and misfortune dogged his early years. His foot was bitten by a reptile in Meudon wood, near Sevres, where he had been taken to live with some friends of his mother. The bite was poorly dressed, and ultimately he lost his leg. However, as it turned out, the wooden stump that replaced his leg became famous.
At fifteen he entered the studios at Sevres, first working in the decoration of porcelain occupied him and later turning to painting. Turkish and Oriental scenes attracted him, and he took to painting Eastern figures dressed in richly coloured garments; many of these paintings remain extant. He also spent much time at Barbizon.
At Fontainebleau Diaz found Rousseau painting his wonderful forest pictures, and was determined to paint in the same way if possible. However, Rousseau was then in poor health, embittered against the world, and consequently was difficult to approach. On one occasion, Diaz followed him surreptitiously to the forest, wooden leg not hindering, and he dodged round after the painter, trying to observe his method of work. After a time Diaz found a way to become friendly with Rousseau, and revealed his eagerness to understand the latter's techniques. Rousseau was touched with the passionate words of admiration, and finally taught Diaz all he knew.
Diaz exhibited many pictures at the Paris Salon, and was decorated in 1851. During the Franco-German War he went to Brussels. After 1871, his works became fashionable and rose gradually in the estimation of collectors, and he worked constantly and successfully. Diaz's finest pictures are his forest scenes and storms, and it is on these that his fame rests. There are several examples of his work in the Louvre, and three small figure pictures in the Wallace Collection, Hertford House.
ID: 72243 Four Spanish Maidens between 1844(1844) and 1860(1860)
Oil on panel
27 X 21.6 cm (10.63 X 8.5 in)