Diaz de la Peña's Spanish parents, who were political refugees, died by the time he was ten years old, and Narcisse was sent to Bellevue to live with a pastor's family. Because of a snake bite, his left leg had to be amputated when he was thirteen. In 1825 he became an apprentice colorist in Arsène Gillet's porcelain factory. During his time there he met Gillet's nephew, Dupré (q.v.), and Louis Cabat (1812-1893), both associated with the group of painters working in Barbizon. In 1827 he was briefly taught by François Souchon (1787-1857) and also copied the works of Correggio (1483-1534) and Prud'hon (q.v.) in the Louvre. His own paintings were shown at the Salon from 1831 until 1859 and included subjects from the Bible, mythology, literature, and the Orient, inspired by Delacroix (q.v.) and Decamps (q.v.), as Diaz himself never traveled that far. From 1835 onward, he often visited Barbizon and the forest of Fontainebleau. Although the influence of Decamps remained, he met artists such as Théodore Rousseau (q.v.), whom he greatly admired, which resulted in many studies of trees and rocks. Apart from concentrating on lush landscapes, Diaz also used his forest scenes as backgrounds for nudes disguised as Venuses or nymphs. Such works answered a reviving taste for compositions with a rococo flavor, and Diaz readily sold his art to many collectors. From the 1840s on he became quite successful and eventually received several awards, among them the Legion of Honor in 1851. He could demand high prices for his works, and various artists began imitating his style. Diaz's financial success enabled him to support some of his friends such as Rousseau and Millet (q.v.). Diaz was one of the most eminent members of the Barbizon school of painters, a group that turned away from academic training to study directly from nature.