(b. 1844, Laval, d. 1910, Paris)

View of the Fortifications to the Left of the Porte de Vanves

Oil on canvas, 31 x 41 cm
The Hermitage, St. Petersburg

Rousseau was an elderly amateur painter, who, for the sake of art, gave up his job. He exhibited unsuccessfully at the Salon des Indépendants, wrote music and plays, and kept a studio on Montmartre. By his very appearance, he epitomized a caustic parody of the traditional figure of "the Artist" rejected by the avant-garde. Early 20th-century rebels such as Matisse, Derain, and Picasso could not help but be impressed by the natural way in which Rousseau combined a faith in art with an abandonment of accepted conventions: perspective, chiaroscuro, poignant subject matter, and saccharine attractiveness.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.