He was born in Pitaru, Dambovita (at that time, called Tara Romaneasca) in 1838.
His father was a peasant but in 1843, the family moved to Bucarest. There, when Nicolae was 10 y. o. entered Anton Chladek’s atelier to learn painting. They made icons to the church of Baicoi and to the monastery of Caldarusani.
As a young man, he continued painting for churches: big murals on the walls that we can appreciate in Zamfira, Prahova and Agapia. However, he was attracted by the political ideas of his time (in 1859 Tara Romaneasca and Moldavia were unified) and he painted a historical work, “Mihai Viteazu” based on Dimitrie Bolintineanu’ poem and in his unionist ideas. Then, he was granted to study in France by powerful men of the future Romania.
In Paris, he studied in the École des Beaux-Arts and in the atelier of Sébastian Cornu…, it was the same atelier where Pierre-Auguste Renoir was working! But there would be free air and nature what he would want to represent. In the little village of Barbizon a group of young artists: Millet, Corot, Courbet and Théodore Rousseau were painting canvas which illustrated that ideal life in the countryside before Industrial Revolution and busy cities trapped innocent human souls. Of course, he moved there.
In 1868, he exhibited in the Salon de Paris “Gypsy girl”, a beautiful picture influenced by Barbizon and by the impressionist ideas of colour and light.
Between 1863 and 1864, he travelled around Italy, Greece and Austria… His painting was matured when, in 1877, he accompanied the Romanian Army in his Independence War where, as a new Goya, he would draw soldiers and fights.
From 1890, he lived in his beloved countryside painting farmers, girls, dusty ways and idyllic images.
In 1899, he was named member of the Romanian Academy of Fine Arts being the painter who introduced the avant-garde conquests in the Romanian Art.
He died in 1907.