The School of Ecouen

During the second half of the 19th century, a large group of artists left Paris and settled in Ecouen. They were attracted to its geographic location, the castle, and the forests which served as a source of inspiration as they shared and perfected their craft.

During this exciting time, Ecouen welcomed more than a 100 artists, including a great deal of foreign ones, most of them being Americans. Pierre Edouard Frère (1816-1886) was the leading force of this school. Some prestigious artists, like Léonide Bourges (1838-1909) and Jean-Baptiste Corot, were part of its history before moving to Auvers-sur-Oise.

At that time, professional and friendly relationships existed between Ecouen and Auvers-sur-Oise. In 1886 Pierre Edouard Frere died after 40 years of teaching and leadership. Unfortunately, this initiated the decline of the school.

The School of Ecouen is well known by experts but forgotten by the common world. However, Its richness was brought to light in 1997, thanks to the important research of Mr Le Guilchet and the meticulous restoration initiated by the talented painters from the school.

We invite you to visit the showroom of the Ecouen City Hall.


1 – The Ecouen school :
Specificity of the « genre painting » was to show the ordinary life of the people and humble farmers. This kind of art became in vogue, most of all in the US. Therefore, a lot of English speaking painters came to Ecouen to learn it from Pierre Edouard Frere.

2 – The Ecouen painting Colony :
The term Colony applies to a group of painters focussing on other subjects than the « genre painting ». Nevertheless, they were very close and influenced by the Ecouen school artists.

Luigi Chialiva (1841-1914) is shown on the right hand side of this picture