Théodore Rousseau

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portrait of Theodore Rousseau; photo of Nadar, 1855-1859

Pierre Théodore Rousseau (April 15, 1812 – December 22, 1867) was an important French painter of the Barbizon school. His landscape paintings are mainly grave in character, with an air of melancholy.

Quotes of Théodore Rousseau[edit]

sorted chronologically, by date of the quotes of Théodore Rousseau
Th. Rousseau, 1830: 'Mountain landscape with a fisher', oil-painting on canvas; location: Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam
Th. Rousseau, 1830: 'Valley in the Auvergne Mountains', oil-painting; - quote of Millet, 1867: '..although I knew your Auvergne studies and those preceding them, I was again struck, in seeing them together, by the fact that a power is a power from its very beginning. From the very first you show a freshness of eye..'
Th. Rousseau, 1831: 'Fishing village', oil-painting
Th. Rousseau, 1833: 'The Coast of Granville', oil on canvas
Th. Rousseau, 1833: 'Study of tree trunks', oil-painting
Th. Rousseau, early 1834: 'Thunderstorm over Mont Blanc / Mont Blanc Seen from La Faucille, Storm Effect', oil-painting on canvas; location: Courtesy of Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen - quote of Th. Rousseau, 1834: 'I burn with the desire of fulfilling the difficult task of giving upon canvas an idea of the immensity which surrounds me [The Alps] in order to distribute its benefits to those less fortunate than myself.. .I ask without scruple, because it seems to me that I have something to give.'
Th. Rousseau, 1834: 'Falaises near Geneva', oil on paper
Th. Rousseau, 1837: 'Avenue / L'allée des Châtaigniers', oil on canvas; quote of Th. Rousseau, 1842: 'Sir [the Minister], be good enough to allow me to address to you a rather important request with regard to a picture inscribed at the Ministry as 'The Avenue' which at one time you [Minister] kindly ordered from me. This picture.. ..makes me tremble in this exceptional case at the official destiny of my work..'
Th. Rousseau, 1840 and later: 'Twilight', oil-painting on canvas; location: Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
Th. Rousseau, 1844: 'A Swamp in Les Landes', oil on panel
Th. Rousseau, 1845: 'Thunderstorms mood in the level of Montmartre', color-painting on panel; location: Musée d'Orsay, Paris
Th. Rousseau, 1845: 'Hoarfrost', oil-painting; - information: During the winter of 1844/45, Théodore Rousseau shared quarters with fellow painter Jules Dupré to the east of Paris, near l'Isle-Adam on the Oise River. In this view he shows the effects of frost on the sloping terrain; Rousseau was working outdoors for a week, painting directly on the canvas.
Th. Rousseau, c. 1848: 'View of the Plain of Montmartre', oil on panel
Th. Rousseau, 1849-1855: 'Forest of Fontainebleau, Cluster of Tall Trees Overlooking the Plain of Clair-Bois at the Edge of Bas-Bréau', oil-painting on canvas; location: Getty Center, Los Angeles, California - quote on this painting by Vincent van Gogh, c. 1883, in a letter to brother Theo: '...an edge of a wood in the autumn after rain, with a vista of meadows stretching away endlessly, marshy, with cows in them, the foreground rich in tone. To me that's one of the finest .. .The dramatic effect of these paintings is something that helps us to understand 'a corner of nature seen through a temperament'
Th. Rousseau, 1850-52: 'Oak Grove, Apremont', oil-painting
Th. Rousseau, c. 1851: 'Mountainous Landscape near Fontainebleau', oil-painting on panel; location: Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam - quote of Th. Rousseau, 1850'a: 'I heard the voices of the trees; the surprises of their movements. Their varieties of form and even their peculiarity of attraction toward the light had suddenly revealed to me the language of the forest.'
Th. Rousseau, 1855: 'The charcoal hut in the forest of Fontainebleau', oil-painting
Th. Rousseau, 1855-65: 'Autumn Landscape', drawing in brown ink and orange wash over graphite
Th. Rousseau, 1857-67: 'Study of an Oak Tree', drawing in black and white chalk
Th. Rousseau, c. 1861: 'A Path among the Rocks', oil on wood
Th. Rousseau, 1864: 'The Great Oaks of Old Bas-Bréau', oil-painting
Th. Rousseau, 1865: 'Wheatfields', drawing in watercolor and chalk
Th. Rousseau, 1865: 'Summer Sunset', oil-painting
Th. Rousseau, c. 1867: 'The Marsh / Le Marais', oil on wood

1830 - 1850[edit]

  • My good Mama, I am always the same.. ..always the same happy life, always fresh for seeing, vigorous for running, and diligent for one end.. .The Mont Blanc is our alarm clock in the morning, our vis-a-vis are the folk on the other side of the lake of Geneva, (8 leagues). I could not say that we get along badly, though we do dispense with the ceremony of saluting each other and saying bon jour when we look out at the window, for we don't meddle in our neighbors' affairs. Our sight carries fifty leagues about us, and we are equally everywhere, although only occupying the space of our two feet. I am delighted with having received my stretchers in order to commence my view of the Alps. I burn with the desire of fulfilling the difficult task of giving upon canvas an idea of the immensity which surrounds me in order to distribute its benefits to those less fortunate than myself.. .I ask without scruple, because it seems to me that I have something to give. I have so much confidence in myself, mon Dieu, when I examine myself.
    • Quote of Th. Rousseau, in a letter to his mother, late Summer 1834, from the Alps, Switzerland; as cited in Barbizon days, Millet-Corot-Rousseau-Barye by Charles Sprague Smith, A. Wessels Company, New York, July 1902, pp. 152-53
  • We form at La Faucille now a little colony where concord and happiness reign, and have not even for enemies the bears of the country.. .We are situated in a very movable manner, however, on one of the mountains of the Jura, where the inn is the most remarkable building. For I must tell you that we enjoy the company of an unaccountable old man of sixty, who resembles poor Father Colombert as if it were he himself. He is of the ancient nobility. He held the grade of General under the Restoration, having had possessions, which he has lost by the changes. He consoles himself now by carrying all his fortune. With him, a much rarer lot it consists in good humour and strength and philosophy. I have never seen a more excellent man. He is here to search for plants and stones.
    • Quote in a letter to Rousseau's mother, from the Jura, 17th August, 1834; as cited in The Barbizon School of Painters: Corot, Rousseau, Diaz, Millet, Daubigny, etc. , by D. C. Thomson; Scribner and Welford, New York 1890 – (copy nr. 78), pp. 111-112
  • If my painting depicts faithfully and without over-refinement the simple and true character of the place you have frequented, if I succeed.. ..in giving its own life to that world of vegetation, then you will hear the trees moaning under the winter wind, the birds that call their young and cry after their dispersion ; you will feel the old chateau tremble; it will tell you that, as the wife you loved, it too will.. ..disappear and be reborn in multiple forms.. One does not copy with mathematical precision what one sees, but one feels and interprets a real world, all of whose fatalities hold you fast bound.
    • Quote in a letter to M. Guizot, c. 1839-41; as cited by Charles Sprague Smith, in Barbizon days, Millet-Corot-Rousseau-Barye publisher, A. Wessels Company, New York, July 1902, pp. 172-173
    • The Duke de Broglie had ordered of Rousseau a painting of the 'Chateau de Broglie', for his friend M. Guizot. Madame Guizot had died there, and The Duke de Broglie urged Rousseau to make the painting grave and sad.. The quote presents Rousseau’s responding
  • Sir - Be good enough to allow me to address to you a rather important request with regard to a picture inscribed at the Ministry as 'The Avenue' which at one time you [Minister] kindly ordered from me. This picture.. ..makes me tremble in this exceptional case at the official destiny of my work. I should wish, as well as for another I am now finishing, to be able to give myself in public the advantage of a composition still more developed, and lending itself more to general acceptation. With the help of your goodness and your clear discernment everything will be arranged for the best, as M. Paul Perier has offered me a place for 'The Avenue' in his gallery, and I would arrange with you to occupy myself with a picture, the same in substance, but with a further development. If you think you can accept my proposition, as I hope you will, you will render me a great service, as well as to M. Perier, who honours me by anxiously wishing to have the picture..
    • Quote from Rousseau's letter to the secretary of Museum Beaux-Arts / the Minister, 1842, as cited in The Barbizon School of Painters: Corot, Rousseau, Diaz, Millet, Daubigny, etc., by D. C. Thomson; Scribner and Welford, New York 1890 – (copy nr. 78), pp. 118-119
    • the Minister was good-natured enough to let the matter drop perhaps he thought he was well out of the bargain and Rousseau sold the picture for £ 80.- to M. fr:Paul Casimir-Perier.

1851 - 1867[edit]

  • I heard the voices of the trees; the surprises of their movements. Their varieties of form and even their peculiarity of attraction toward the light had suddenly revealed to me the language of the forest. All that world of flora lived as mutes, whose signs I divined, whose passions I discovered. I wished to converse with them and to be able to say to myself, through that other language, painting, that I had put my finger upon the secret of their grandeur.
    • quote from a talk between Th. Rousseau and Alfred Sensier, 1850's; as cited in Barbizon days, Millet-Corot-Rousseau-Barye by Charles Sprague Smith, A. Wessels Company, New York, July 1902, p. 147
    • Alfred Sensier frequently visited the studio of Th. Rousseau (and Millet) and wrote later a book about both artists
  • ..everything has conspired to keep from me the leisure and quiet which I could wish in order to answer you. I have also made two journeys to Paris, the last one to attend the funeral of poor Emile Diaz [son of the Barbizon-painter Narcisse Virgilio Díaz,] of whom you ask news. His poor father was almost mad with grief, which, however, we managed to calm. You were as if present, and our thoughts associated you with the sad scene. During the return my wife was taken ill, and day by day a neuralgic attack came on which has left her very feeble. I do not know what to do, my dear friend. At the commencement I had thought of leaving her at Martigues, but now her mental condition would not permit of my leaving her. She would be afraid of being ill without me there beside her. I think I had better wait until the result of this last attack shall have left her.
    • Quote from Rousseau's letter to Ziem, 1856; as cited in The Barbizon School of Painters: Corot, Rousseau, Diaz, Millet, Daubigny, etc., by D. C. Thomson; Scribner and Welford, New York 1890 – (copy nr. 78), pp. 135-136
    • The quiet life at Barbizon was at this time broken by the death of the only son of Díaz, and by the mental distortion of Rousseau's own wife
  • Do not be anxious about [an ordered painting] 'La Ferme' my dear Mr. Hartmann, I am anxious to establish in this picture such a decision deformed, that it may exist, independently of the caprices of the light, and of the influence of the hours of the day. I am regulating it, absolutely as a watchmaker regulates a watch after he has finished it.
    • In a letter to Mr. Hartmann, c. 1865; as quoted in The Painters of Barbizon I – Millet, Rousseau and Diaz, by John W. Mollett, B.A.; publ. Sampton Low, Marston, Searle & Rivington, Limited, London, 1890, p. 81
    • Mr. Hartmann, who had bought this and two other pictures had waited for them fifteen years, at last became impatient, and wrote Rousseau: 'I shall only enjoy my pictures in my extreme old age, when I shall have become too blind to see them'. his biographer/friend Alfred Sensier wrote: this seemed to Mr. Hartmann 'as the reasoning of a troubled mind.' [1]
  • Do you see that corner of canvas there [of his painting 'La Ferme'], large as the hand, does it not seem to you that it far surpasses in intensity, in clearness, in expression, the rest of the canvas? [Sensier confirmed]. Well, then, all the rest must pass under the control of that little centre; all that which surrounds it submit itself to that diapason of light and the whole of the picture be as charged with life as that which you see there. Must we not incessantly lift ourselves, surpass ourselves, in this terrible profession of painter?
    • quote from a talk with Alfred Sensier, c. 1865; as cited in Barbizon days, Millet-Corot-Rousseau-Barye by Charles Sprague Smith, A. Wessels Company, New York, July 1902, pp. 159-60
    • the quote is pointing to his painting 'The Farm / La Ferme', upon which Rousseau had worked for years
  • The news of our health is not good. My wife has been in agony several times, but she is having a little rest now. As for myself, I am better in a certain sense, and worse in another. I have still that feverish blood which runs through me, and which troubles my brain when my pains are most acute. I have again left off work, and again recommenced. Now I can do nothing, and it is killing me.. .In this we are all warned we must have health for a motto. Therefore, take care of yourself to the end, and do not tire yourself too much. Usually you inscribe my name on the official list for the [Paris] Salon towards the new year, and you will doubtless do it this year. As it is useless to make ourselves enemies in this way, this is what we must do: request Etcheverry to erase mine from the lists or I will send you cards to use as you think best.
    • Quote from a letter to fr:Alfred Sensier, Dec. 1866; as cited in Alfred Sensier, Souvenirs sur Th. Rousseau; quoted in The Barbizon School of Painters: Corot, Rousseau, Diaz, Millet, Daubigny, etc., by D. C. Thomson; Scribner and Welford, New York 1890 – (copy nr. 78), pp. 142-143
  • Do you see all those beautiful trees there ? I sketched them all thirty years ago; I have had all their portraits. Look at that beech there, the sun lights it up and makes of it a marble column, a column that has muscles, limbs, hands and a fair skin, white and pallid.. .See the modest green of the heath and its plants, rosy, amaranthine, which distil honey for the bees and fragrance for the butterflies. The sun lights them up and gives them a diapason of extraordinary color. Ah, the sun..
    • Quote of Th. Rousseau, Sept. 1867; recorded by fr:Alfred Sensier; as cited by Charles Sprague Smith, in Barbizon days, Millet-Corot-Rousseau-Barye; publisher, A. Wessels Company, New York, July 1902, p. 164
    • In September 1867 (two months before Rousseau’s death, when already half paralyzed), Th. Rouseau took a ride with Sensier to look once more at the heather. He was pointing to the Sully, a giant of the wood

undated quotes[edit]

  • Ah! Silence is golden. When I was in my observatory at Belle-croix, I dared not move as the silence opened to me a course of discoveries. The families of the wood were then in action. It was the silence that permitted me, immovable as a tree trunk, to see the deer in their hiding-place and at their toilet, to observe the habits of the field rat, of the otter, of the salamander, those fantastic amphibious animals. He who lives in the silence becomes the center of a world; a little more and I could imagine myself the sun of a small creation, if my studies had not recalled to me that I had so much trouble to reproduce a poor tree or a cluster of rushes.
    • Quote recorded by fr:Alfred Sensier, in Souvenirs sur Rousseau, Paris, 1872; as cited in The Barbizon School of Painters: Corot, Rousseau, Diaz, Millet, Daubigny, etc., by D. C. Thomson; Scribner and Welford, New York 1890 – (copy nr. 78), p. 120
  • * Charles Jacque to Th. Rousseau: 'I should think you got weary here'.
    * Rousseau: 'That depends; when you wish to do so, one can always find beautiful things to study and understand. Look here at this charcoal-burner [in the field] before us, with his big felt hat - who is thinking of his sacks and of his faggots sees how the shadow of those large brims gives a clear yet grave tint to his face'.
    * Charles Jacque: 'Draw him, Rousseau, in this pensive attitude, he does not doubt that he is handsome, and if he posed himself he would become repellent. See, here is a sketch-book, go on!'
    • Quote from a dialogue between Th. Rousseau and Jacque; as cited in The Barbizon School of Painters: Corot, Rousseau, Diaz, Millet, Daubigny, etc., by D. C. Thomson; Scribner and Welford, New York 1890 – (copy nr. 78), p 125
  • The tree which rustles and the heather which grows are for me the grand history, that which will not change. If I speak well their language, I shall have spoken well the language of all times.
    • as quoted in Barbizon days, Millet-Corot-Rousseau-Barye by Charles Sprague Smith, A. Wessels Company, New York, July 1902, p. 132
  • What has art to do with those things [Revolution, socialism]? Art will never come except from some little disregarded corner where some isolated man is studying the mysteries of nature, fully assured that the answer which he finds and which is good for him is good also for humanity, whatever may be the number of succeeding generations.
    • as quoted by Romain Rolland in his book Millet, c. 1900; transl. Miss Clementina Black; published by Duckworth & Co, Londo / E. P. Dutton & Co, New York, 1919, p. 8
  • I thought only of one thing, to account to myself for the laws of light and perspective. I did not attach any importance to what they found original, new and romantic in me, I sought the picture.
    • as quoted in Barbizon days, Millet-Corot-Rousseau-Barye by Charles Sprague Smith, A. Wessels Company, New York, July 1902, p. 141
    • Th. Roussseau took little part in the French art-discussions of the day between Classicists and Romanticists, in the 1830's
  • Yes, a man ought to be courageous enough, loyal enough, and rich enough, not to produce but one prodigious work, in order that this work should be a chef-d'oeuvre, and glorify the man in his creation.. .If I could have my wish, I would be a millionaire for nothing else save to effect the genesis of a single and unique picture, to consecrate myself thereto and to find my pleasure therein, to suffer and joy in it, until, content with my work, after years of trial, I could sign it and say: 'There my powers stop and there my heart ceases to beat'.
    • as quoted by Charles Sprague Smith, in Barbizon days, Millet-Corot-Rousseau-Barye publisher, A. Wessels Company, New York, July 1902, pp. 160-61

Quotes about Théodore Rousseau[edit]

sorted chronologically, by date of the quotes about Théodore Rousseau
  • Come to my house, my friend: I have a second studio there which no one enters. There I will take you in and there you will paint this masterpiece. If I can judge by your sketch [of his later painting 'Paysage du Jura [La descente des vaches], 1836'] you must not let yourself get cool; you are still burning with the mountain breezes, do not stifle their voices. Tomorrow everything will be ready.
    • Quote of Ary Scheffer 1834-35, as cited by fr:Alfred Sensier, in his Souvenirs sur Rousseau, Paris, 1872; quoted in The Barbizon School of Painters: Corot, Rousseau, Diaz, Millet, Daubigny, etc., by D. C. Thomson; Scribner and Welford, New York 1890 – (copy nr. 78), pp. 112-113
    • After his stay in the Alps Rousseau again settled in Paris. He first finished a rapid design of 'La Descente des Vaches' ( sketch, in Paris, End of 1834) which he did in a few days in his studio in the Rue Taitbout. This studio was to small and dark for making a large-scale painting he intended to paint. Ary Scheffer visited him, saw the sketch and invited him.
  • Monsieur, I have the honour to announce to you that M. le Ministre has ordered that your picture, representing 'An Avenue,' shall be purchased by his department at the price of 2,000 francs. I beg, sir, that you will hold this picture at the disposition of M. le Ministre, so that the amount may be paid in your name.
    • Quote from a letter of M. Cave - director of the Royal Museum des Beaux-Arts, 1837; as cited in The Barbizon School of Painters: Corot, Rousseau, Diaz, Millet, Daubigny, etc., by D. C. Thomson; Scribner and Welford, New York 1890 – (copy nr. 78), p. 117
    • about the official purchase of the painting 'L'allée des Châtaigniers; the payment of this State acquisition did not take place till 1840, after three years of struggle
  • My dear Rousseau, I do not know if the two sketches which I enclose will be of any use to you. I merely wish to show you where I would place the figures in your picture, that is all. You know better than I do what is best, and what you wish to do. These last few days we have had some effects of hoarfrost, which I am not going to try and describe, feeling how useless this would be! I will content myself with saying that God alone can ever have seen such marvelously fairy-like scenes. I only wish that you could have been here to see them. Have you finished your pictures? Because you have only a month more in which to finish your 'Forest' [painting ], and it is very important indeed that this picture should be in the Salon. In fact, it must absolutely be there.. .Good-bye, my dear Rousseau, and accept a whole pile of cordial good wishes.
    • Quote of Millet, in his letter to Th. Rousseau, from Barbizon early Spring 1853; as cited in Jean Francois Millet, his Life and Letters, Julia Cartwright; Swan Sonnenschein en Co, Lim. London / The Macmillian Company, New York; second edition, September 1902, p. 137
    • Millet wrote Rousseau who was staying in Paris, and urged him to complete his 'Forest' painting in time, for the Paris' Salon, held in the Summer of 1853. Millet sent him included two sketches on paper as pictorial help and advice for the composition of Rousseau's painting.
  • fr:Alfred Sensier tells how Dupré saved at least one canvas, 'Border of the Forest' which Rousseau, morbidly critical, was about to injure by over-painting, or destroy altogether, by urging him to turn its face to the wall and give it a long month's lease of life. When the month had expired, he [Rousseau] examined it long and searchingly in Dupre's presence, finally exclaiming: 'Well, I am going to sign it; it is finished.'
    • Quote of Charles Sprague Smith, in Barbizon days, Millet-Corot-Rousseau-Barye publisher, A. Wessels Company, New York, July 1902, p. 161
  • The day after we parted, I went to see your exhibition [in Paris]. I must tell you that, although I knew your Auvergne studies and those preceding them, I was again struck, in seeing them together, by the fact that a power is a power from its very beginning. From the very first you show a freshness of eye, which leaves no doubt as to the pleasure you have in nature ; one can see that she spoke directly to you, and that you saw by your own eyes. It is yours and not some other's, as Montaigne says. I am not going to follow your steps, picture by picture, down to the present. I only want to speak of the departure [(early Auvergne-painting of Th. Roussseau) ], which is the important point, for it shows that a man is of the true breed. You were, from the beginning, the little acorn which was destined to become the great oak.
    • Quote from Millet in his letter to Th. Rousseau, Summer of 1867; as cited in Alfred Sensier, Vie de Millet, Quanlin, 1881; as quoted in The Barbizon School of Painters: Corot, Rousseau, Diaz, Millet, Daubigny, etc., by D. C. Thomson; Scribner and Welford, New York 1890 – (copy nr. 78), pp. 142-143
  • Rousseau continues better, though yesterday he was not very well; today he is better. The doctor seemed encouraged. I hope for his recovery, though perhaps it may be very slow. Alfred Stevens came this morning with Puvis de Chavannes, to tell Rousseau that he is elected officer [of the [[w:Legion of Honour|Legion of Honour]. We received them my wife and I on the stairs, begging them not to go up lest his quiet should be disturbed. I told him [Rousseau], and he seemed very much pleased.
    • Quote from Millet, in his letter to fr:Alfred Sensier, 12 August 1867; as cited in The Barbizon School of Painters: Corot, Rousseau, Diaz, Millet, Daubigny, etc., by D. C. Thomson; Scribner and Welford, New York 1890 – (copy nr. 78), p. 146
    • In 1865 and 1866 this Legion of Honour was refused to grant to Th. Rousseau
  • Aligny was there [in Barbizon], and Diaz, and Rousseau, and Rousseau's instructions on the palette were the 'point de départ' [starting-point] of the real talent of Diaz, for colour. At this period [after 1836] the fine studies of the 'Grand Refusé' [2] (Rousseau) were a revelation to the quondam painter [Diaz!] of porcelain, who had been struggling, all alone, to purge himself of the traditions of the 'peinture' of the 'apothecaries' gallipot, and the chocolat cup.. .Diaz was conquered immediately by Rousseau, and his admiration for him remained for ever, the conviction and the religion of all his life.
    • Quote from fr:Alfred Sensier, in Souvenirs sur Theodore Rousseau, Paris, 1872, Alfred Sensier [3], (Paris, 1872); as cited in The Painters of Barbizon 1. – Millet, Rousseau and Diaz, by John W. Mollett, B.A.; publ. Sampton Low, Marston, Searle & Rivington, Limited, London, 1890, p. 96
  • I have seen him seize from the tailor's counter a sheet of invoice-paper upon which I read: [his father:] 'Rousseau, marchand tailleur, Rue Neuve St. Eustache, No. 4, pres la Place des Victoires, fait tout ce qui concerne son etat dans le plus nouveau gout,' and trace, with feverish hand, sparkling arabesques from his imagination, create shadowy lands, covered walks, joyous plains where fancy often distorted reality, but where, rising from this deceptive earth, he appeared to catch glimpses of the world to come.
    • Quote of fr:Alfred Sensier, in Souvenirs sur Rousseau, Paris, 1872; as cited in The Barbizon School of Painters: Corot, Rousseau, Diaz, Millet, Daubigny, etc., by D. C. Thomson; Scribner and Welford, New York 1890 – (copy nr. 78), pp. 124-125
    • Th. Rousseau often went home to his father's house, (who had been a tailor), when his father became old
  • He [= Th. Rousseau] does not carry us away, as Francois Millet, toward the sorrowing epochs of rustic life, to reveal their savage grandeur or gloomy solemnity.. ..he does not transport us as Corot, into the lands of twilight, where the light, the freshness and the shadow sing an aerial melody, whose last notes reach out into infinity. No: simple, strong, all impregnated with naturalism, he respects the exact relations of the trees, the animals, man and the sky.
  • Speaking of [TH.] Rousseau, do you know Richard Wallace's Rousseau ['The forest of Fontainebleau': Morning', c. 1850 [4]]? An edge of a wood in the autumn after rain, with a vista of meadows stretching away endlessly, marshy, with cows in them, the foreground rich in tone. To me that's one of the finest — is very like the one with the red sun in The Luxembourg ['The edge of the forest of Fontainebleau, at sunset', c. 1849]. The dramatic effect of these paintings is something that helps us to understand 'a corner of nature seen through a temperament'.
    • Quote of Vincent van Gogh in a letter to Theo, from the Hague, c. 11 July 1883 - original manuscript at Van Gogh Museum, location Amsterdam - inv. nos. b322 a-c V/1962, [5]
    • the idea of 'a corner of nature seen through a temperament' accords with the naturalistic approach to art as formulated by the Frech writer Zola
  • The grand aspects of landscape and its tenderness are equally familiar to him [Rousseau]. He renders with the same mastery the smile of creation and its terrors, the broad open plain and the mysterious forest, the limpid, sun-bright sky or the heaping of the clouds put to flight by storms, the terrible aspects of landscape or those replete with grace. He has understood all, rendered all with equal genius. The great contemporary painters have each a particular stamp, Corot [is] painting the grace, Millet the hidden voice, Jules Dupré the majestic strength; Theodore Rousseau has been by turns as much a poet as Corot, as melancholy as Millet, as awful as Dupré; he is the most complete, for he embraces landscape art absolutely.
    • Quote of Albert Wolff, 1886, in Notes upon certain masters of the XIX century, - printed not published MDCCCLXXXVI (1886), The Art Age Press, 400 N.Y. (written after the exhibition 'Cent Chefs-d'Oeuvres: the Choiche of the French Private Galleries', Petit, Paris / Baschet, New York, 1883, p. 60
  • With advancing age Rousseau was attacked with that thirst for honorable recognition which in an artist is the first sign of senility. He did not carry stoicism to the end, like Millet. Though haughty and full of contempt for his detractors, Rousseau's self-love had at length received a wide and deep wound, made up of pin-pricks. We find the signs of his bitter feelings in his correspondence, in those familiar notes which were published after his death, and which are like the cries of pain from the wounded heart. At this time a period of hesitation begins to be seen in the work of the great painter.. .The [Paris] Salon of 1864 was the witness of this defection, a matter of pain to Rousseau's admirers.
    • Quote of Albert Wolff, 1886, in Notes upon certain masters of the XIX century, - printed not published MDCCCLXXXVI (1886), The Art Age Press, 400 N.Y. (written after the exhibition 'Cent Chefs-d'Oeuvres: the Choice of the French Private Galleries', Petit, Paris / Baschet, New York, 1883, p. 61
  • In July, 1841, Rousseau went to Monsoult, on the borders of the Isle-Adam, where Daubigny and Corot often painted, and there with Jules Dupre he painted for several months. His studio was next door to Dupre's, whose mother became in some sense head of this artistic community of three, and very quiet and happy the time was found. Several artists visited them, such as Decamps and Barye, and this period of Rousseau's life is marked by great quietness.
    • Quote of D. C. Thomson, in The Barbizon School of Painters: Corot, Rousseau, Diaz, Millet, Daubigny, etc., D. C. Thomson; Scribner and Welford, New York 1890 – (copy nr. 78), p. 120
  • So a portion of 1831 and 1832 was given up to voyages of exploration into the unknown. He went first toward Rouen and studied the windings of the Seine, thence to Andelys where he sketched the Norman trees, the rocky slopes along the rivers, and the old castles; from there to Bayeux and the cliffs of Arromanches and explored the whole coast of la Manche and Calvados. He made a multitude of sketches and, in order to meet man under his native sky and know him too, he lodged in the country inns and mingled with the people. The following year, 1832, he visited Normandy again, going directly to Mont Saint-Michel, and from this trip brought back the sketch for his Salon picture of 1833, 'The Coast of Granville'
    • Quote of Charles Sprague Smith, in Barbizon days, Millet-Corot-Rousseau-Barye publisher, A. Wessels Company, New York, July 1902, pp. 144-145
  • If Theodore Rousseau was the epic poet of the Fontainebleau school, and Corot the idyllic poet, Dupre seems its tragic dramatist. Rousseau's nature is hard, rude and indifferent to man. For Corot, God is the great philanthropist, who wishes to see men happy, and lets the spring come and the warm winds blow, only that children may have pleasure in them.
    • Quote by Muther, c. 1900; as cited in The Barbizon Painters – being the story of the Men of thirty, Arthur Hoeber – associate of the National Academy of Design; publishers, Frederick A. Stokes Company, New York 1915, p. 172
  • Rousseau's other friend and neighbour [in Barbizon], Jules Dupré, himself an eminent landscape painter of Barbizon, relates the difficulty Rousseau experienced in knowing when his picture was finished, and how he, Dupré, would sometimes take away from the studio some canvas on which Rousseau was labouring too long.
    • Quote from Encyclopædia Britannica, 1911 – volume 23; [6]

'Preface' in Salon de 1844, Théophile Thoré[edit]

Quotes of Théodore Rousseau, from: the 'Preface', in Salon de 1844, Théophile Thoré; as cited in The Barbizon School of Painters: Corot, Rousseau, Diaz, Millet, Daubigny, etc., D. C. Thomson; Scribner and Welford, New York 1890 – (copy nr. 78), p. 110
  • Do you [Th. Rouseau] recollect the time [early 1830's] when in our attics of the Rue Taitbout [Paris], seated at our small windows, our legs hanging over the edge of the roof, we looked at the corner of the houses and the chimneys, which you compared, with a smile, to mountains and large trees scattered about the ridges and slopes of the ground? Being unable to go to the Alps or to the joyous country you made for yourself with these hideous carcasses of plaster a picturesque landscape.
  • Do you remember the little tree in Rothschild's garden that we could perceive between the roofs? It was the only verdure we were able to see. In the spring we interested ourselves in the growth of the leaves of the little poplar, and counted them as they fell in the autumn. And with this tree, with this corner of musty sky, with this forest of crowded houses over which our eyes stretched as over a plain, you created images which often deceived you in your painting on the reality of natural effects. You struggled thus by an excess of power nourished by your own invention which the view of living nature did not renew.
  • Do you remember again our rare walks in the wood at Meudon or on the banks of the Seine, when we were able to put together the sum of frs. 2.50, and then at our departure we were almost mad ? We put on our heaviest boots, as if it were a question of starting for a walking tour round the world, as we always imagined we were not coming back. But poverty held us by our boot-strings and dragged us back to the attic; we were condemned to see outside but one round of the sun. Our purse did not last, the air of the Seine is fresh and makes one hungry in the woods What beautiful things we have seen together away beyond Meudon and St. Cloud. Nature made storms gratis and unexpected spectacles expressly for us.
    • Thoré and Th. Rousseau were very close young friends in the early 1830's in Paris.
    • Théophile Thoré was later writing as Thoré-Bürger, and had been reviewing Paris Salons since 1835

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