Narcisse Diaz de la Pena French, 1807-1876


Diaz's life began in a very dramatic fashion. His father and mother escaped Salamanca due to his father's part in a conspiracy. Once in Bordeaux, Diaz was born in 1807. Shortly after his birth, his father died and his mother moved to Meudon to become a governess. When Diaz was twelve, his mother also passed away and the young boy was taken in by a Protestant pastor. While walking in the woods one day, he was bitten by a viper and had to have his leg amputated. One may think that this would dampen his spirits, but it created the opposite effect on this boy.


While working as a printer, Diaz met Jules Dupre who found him employment as a porcelain decorator. He quickly became tired of copying the same motifs and decided to become a professional painter. He took a few lessons in the studio of Souchon and copied master works at the Louvre, which was a common practice. He began his career painting Romantic dramas, Orientalist scenes, and florals. He exhibited regularly at the Salon from 1831 onward.

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