In the 19th century, shady woods southeast of Paris became an open-air laboratory for such painters as Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Théodore Rousseau and Jean-François Millet. In the Forest of Fontainebleau, they painted from life -- a then-revolutionary approach that paved the way for the Barbizon school, Impressionists and other styles of modern art.

To celebrate the place that inspired so much artistic creation, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston have mounted an exhibition titled "In the Forest of Fontainebleau: Painters and Photographers From Corot to Manet." It's on display until June 8 at the National Gallery and from July 13 to Oct. 19 in Houston. It showcases such works as Rosa Bonheur's "Forest of Fontainebleau: Spring in the Woods" (1860-65) and Millet's "The Shepherdess" (1870), as well as vintage photos, maps and guidebooks used by tourists who followed the artists to Fontainebleau's leafy precincts. Info: (202) 737-4215, www.nga.gov.