Over a period of nearly thirty years, Narcisse Virgile Diaz De La Pena painted many views of Fontainebleau Forest, and this is no doubt one of them. The forest interior is so densely overgrown that only a patch of sky is visible, and only filtered sunlight reaches the forest floor. Light is reflected in a pond framed by a spongy carpet of grass. Diaz has used his famous stippled brushwork to suggest the rich texture of foliage, while color separation keeps his tone clear and bright. The final effect is vivid. His forest breathes with vegetal, if not human, life.
Diaz painted so many similar views that it is extremely difficult to date this work with any precision. Most likely it was made after 1848, since it is in his mature style, and since most of his pure landscapes (those without nymphs or exotic women) were done after this time. The very free execution, with modeling little developed, may indicate a work from the artist’s third and final period (c. 1860-1876).