Sunday, 23 October 2016


“The human soul is hungry for beauty; we seek it everywhere - in landscape, music, art, clothes, furniture, gardening, companionship, love, religion, and in ourselves. No one would desire not to be beautiful. When we experience the beautiful, there is a sense of homecoming.” - John O’Donohue

Théodore Rousseau (in full Pierre-Étienne-Théodore Rousseau) was born April 15, 1812, Paris, France and died December 22, 1867, Barbizon, was a French painter who was a leader of the Barbizon school of landscape painters. His direct observation of nature made him an important figure in the development of landscape painting.

Rousseau, the son of a tailor, began to paint at age 14. In the 1820s he began to paint out-of-doors directly from nature, a novel procedure at that time. Although his teachers were in the Neoclassical tradition, Rousseau based his style on extensive study of the 17th-century Dutch landscape painters and the work of such English contemporaries as Richard Parkes Bonington and John Constable.

His early landscapes portray nature as a wild and undisciplined force and gained the admiration of many of France’s leading Romantic painters and writers. In 1831 Rousseau began to exhibit regularly at the French Salon. But in 1836 his “Descent of the Cattle” (c. 1834) was rejected by the jury, as were all his entries during the next seven years. Despite the Salon’s censure, his reputation continued to grow.

Rousseau first visited the Fontainebleau area in 1833 and, in the following decade, finally settled in the village of Barbizon, where he worked with a group of landscape painters, including Jean-François Millet, Jules Dupré, Narcisse-Virgile Diaz de La Peña, and Charles-François Daubigny. Their artistic goals were similar, and they became known collectively as the Barbizon school. During this period Rousseau produced such tranquil pastorals as “Under the Birches, Evening” (1842–44), reflecting the influence of Constable.

After the Revolution of 1848, the Salon briefly relaxed its standards, and Rousseau finally received official recognition as a major figure in French landscape painting. His works were well represented in the Universal Exposition of 1855, and he became president of the fine-arts jury for the Universal Exposition of 1867. Rousseau’s paintings represent in part a reaction against the calmly idealised landscapes of Neoclassicism. His small, highly textured brushstrokes presaged those of the Impressionists.

Rousseau’s paintings are always grave in character, with an air of exquisite melancholy. They are well finished when they profess to be completed pictures, but Rousseau spent so much time developing his subjects that his absolutely completed works are comparatively few. He left many canvases with parts of the picture realised in detail and with the remainder somewhat vague; and also a good number of sketches and water-colour drawings. His pen work in monochrome on paper is rare. There are a number of good pictures by him in the Louvre, and the Wallace collection contains one of his most important Barbizon pictures. There is also an example in the Ionides collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.


  1. Dramatic and beautiful this painting Love the quote of John O'Donohue I've got his book "The invisible embrace Beauty"

  2. I just love the sultriness and roiling sky of this one!