Theodore-Etienne-Pierre Rousseau (Paris 1812-1867 Barbizon)
VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 1… Read more The property of a Swiss private collector (Lots 36 & 37)
Theodore-Etienne-Pierre Rousseau (Paris 1812-1867 Barbizon)

Paysage d'été

Theodore-Etienne-Pierre Rousseau (Paris 1812-1867 Barbizon)
Paysage d'été
signed 'Th. Rousseau' (lower right)
oil on panel
16½ x 25¼ in (42 x 64 cm.)
M.J. Porter Michaels, Paris.
E.H. Cuthbertson, London; Christie's, London, 21 May 1909, lot 97 (4830 gns. to Knoedler).
with Knoedler, New York.
D.T. Watson, Pittsburgh; American Art Association, New York, 16-17 April 1917, lot 117.
Anonymous sale; Christie's, New York, 2 August 1980, lot 85.
with Thomas Colville Fine Art, New York, 1980.
with Galerie Bühler, Munich, when acquired by the present owner.
H.-P. Bühler, 'Gnostiker der Natur', Weltkunst, Munich, 15 February 1985, IV, pp. 311-12, fig. 9.
M. Schulman, Théodore Rousseau, catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre graphique, p. 51, illustrated.
M. Schulman, Théodore Rousseau, catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint, Paris, 1999, pp. 28-29, 248, no. 438, illustrated.
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VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 15% on the buyer's premium

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Lot Essay

'Théodore Rousseau is the master. He is the king of landscape. From the great heights of his great and easygoing talent he dominates that glorious galaxy of landscape artists... What characterises Rousseau's general manner is his penetrating poetry. He doesn't exhibit any violent bias; he never sacrifices one detail to another, but only to the whole; he doesn't summarize varying effects to impose instead a single impression. He strives rather to maintain the balance of things and their natural relationship to each other. He finds the unity of his painting not in the simplification of material means, but in a carefully controlled strength of feeling.'

Thus wrote the great critic Jules Castagnary in response to the paintings submitted by Rousseau to the Salon of 1859. Another critic called him 'the Ruysdael of Fontainebleau Forest'.

Rousseau was the leading painter of the Barbizon School, whose paintings breathed new life into French landscape painting, and who were influenced not only by Camille Corot and his pioneering role in the emergence of a modern French school of landscape painting, but also by English painters such as John Constable and, in particular, Dutch artists of the 17th century such as Salomon Ruysdael and Meindert Hobbema. As a leading exhibitor at the Salon from the 1830s onwards, Rousseau's influence on the visual arts was immense. He established an artist's colony at Barbizon in 1848, where he worked closely with his great friend Jean-François Millet. Whereas the latter focussed on man's struggle to draw a living from the rural environment, Rousseau espoused a more harmonious view of nature as a benevolent force, in which man played no greater or lesser role than the trees, rocks and water that fill his paintings.

This work, which was painted when Rousseau was at the height of his powers and fame, has all the hallmarks of the summer scene which Castagnary extolled in the passage above: a profound sense of stillness and summer heat, and a unity created by the uniform light which gently suffuses every passage of the painting. The work also has other characteristic hallmarks of the artist: the sense of perspective created by the device of the curving path leading to a distant, low horizon; a single figure, whose quiet agricultural labour is secondary to the natural stage; and the dappled foliage which shimmers under the hot sun.

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