La mare près du dormoir, circa 1850 signed 'Th. Rousseau' (lower left) oil on canvas 13 1/2 x 24 1/4in (34.5 x 61.5cm)
PROVENANCE: Mrs. C.F. Kaufmann; Sale, Christie's, London, 19 June 1964, lot 91; with Arthur Tooth & Sons, London, November 1964.
EXHIBITED: Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, March, 1957.
LITERATURE: Connaissance des Arts, May 1965, no. 159, illustrated.
'I also heard the voices of the trees, this whole world of flora lived as deaf-mutes whose signs I devined and whose passions I uncovered. I wanted to talk with them and to be able to tell myself by this other language painting- that I had put my finger on the secret of their majesty.' -Théodore Rousseau
First destined for a career in business, Pierre Etienne Théodore Rousseau demonstrated a profound interest in nature and an aptitude for drawing at an early age. As a youth, Rousseau spent a great deal of time in the Franche-Compte and began sketching the landscape around him. His artistic gift was recognized and he began his training in the studio of Jean Charles Joseph Remond, and exhibited his first painting at the Paris Salon in 1831.
In the early 1830s, the young Rousseau was made aware of the painting of the English romantic painters, particularly John Constable and Richard Parkes Bonington. In 1832, Rousseau traveled to Normandy and Brittany and the following year he received his first public recognition through the purchase of a painting exhibited at the Salon by the Duc d'Orleans. During the winter of 1833-34, Rousseau spent his first significant period of time at the Forest of Fontainebleau.
Rousseau established a permanent residence and studio at Barbizon in 1848 and in June of the following year he met Jean Francois Millet, who would become a lifelong friend. By the 1850s, the Barbizon School was growing in popularity particularly because of interest from the American market and this was a period of great productivity for the artist.
La mare près du dormoir was painted during this period in the artist's career and represents all of the elements which formed the foundation of the Barbizon School of painting. From constantly working out of doors and sketching and painting directly from nature, Rousseau was able to capture on this small canvas the grandeur of nature without artifice. The tinges of red in the trees set the time as early fall, and Rousseau is able to capture the essence of the season in the clarity of the light, the very deep end-of-summer greens, the bright blue sky and the cool stillness of the water.
We are grateful to Galerie Brame & Lorenceau for confirming the authenticity of this work on the basis of a photograph and it will be included in their database of this artist's work.