Nicolae Grigorescu is one of the best-known Romanian painters. His fame has gone past national borders with his works selling at various auctions in the US and in Europe. Grigorescu – whose portrait can be found on the RON 10 banknote – is one of the founders of modern painting in Romania, having lived in the second half of the 19th century. In his early apprenticeship years, he painted churches and in 1861he left to study in Paris, at the École des Beaux-Arts. He was part of the Barbizon school of painters, painting alongside Jean-François Millet, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Gustave Courbet and Théodore Rousseau. After contributing paintings to the Universal Exposition of Paris 1867, Grigorescu, aged 39, was called to accompany the Romanian army as a frontline painter in the 1877 Romanian War of Independence. Later on in his life, he worked in France for about 11 years and in 1890, he returned to the city of Câmpina, where he started painting pastoral themes, creating some of his best known works, including portraits of peasant girls, pictures of ox carts on dusty country roads and other landscapes.
His most famous paintings, which see him ranked among the most expensive painters locally, include Peasants Resting from Work (in Romanian Ţărăncuţă odihnindu-se), which fetched EUR 270,000 at auction last year, several versions of Ox Carts (in Romanian Car cu boi) and The Smârdan attack (Atacul de la Smârdan).