Henri Rousseau

6 March - 5 July 2015

Henri Rousseau, called Le Douanier (1844-1910) La Charmeuse de serpents [The Snake Charmer] 1907 Oil on canvas H. 169; W. 189.5 cm Paris, Musée d'Orsay, Jacques Doucet bequest, 1936
Henri Rousseau, called Le DouanierThe Snake Charmer© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski

Two years after the major exhibition Manet. Ritorno a Venezia, the Public Establishment of the Musée d'Orsay and Musée de l'Orangerie is once again joining forces with the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia to organise an extensive exhibition dedicated to Henri Rousseau, aka Le Douanier. Works by Henri Rousseau conserved at our two museums have been loaned for this event for display in the Ducal Palace, in the apartments of the Doge’s Palace, forming the heart of a presentation celebrating the originality of the French painter through the prism of his relations to archaism.

It would be futile to try to label Henri Rousseau's work (Laval, 1844 - Paris, 1910) as his painting defies any attempt at categorisation. The story of his recognition is thus based on a series of misunderstandings. Both rejected by critics for his "naive" style and appreciated by artists for the very same reason, Henri Rousseau declared himself a "realist" painter. This exhibition thus aims to underline the paradox of an eminently singular artist whose works are nonetheless anchored in his era, by comparing his painting to some of his sources of inspiration, those of a 19th century divided between academism and new painting, and to works by avant-garde artists who enthroned him as the father of modernity.