Theodore Rousseau 1812 -1867

Rousseau was an open air landscape naturalist painter.  He was heavily influenced by Constable and the Dutch landscape painters who settled in the Barbizon in 1848 and to the Dutch masters of the 17th century.

Rousseau was initially trained as a print-making artist.  Rousseau made ten prints, only one was published. Rousseau's graphic technique and linear composition, helped further his career as a landscape painter.  This was one other example of how his methods evolved outside the Academy.

Rousseau said, "I listen to the voices of the trees.. I discover their passions.  The artist's soul must become filled with the infinity of nature."

Rousseau became the leader of the Barbizon school.  His technique, styles and vision to use subdued colors and vignettes, to illustrate nature's effects influenced many landscape painters including Pissarro.  Rousseau's technical innovations helped develop the importance of "plein air", open air, painting.  Rousseau's style shifted from the picturesque to the naturalist landscape.  This new style was a contrast to the traditional methods of painting by the Academy.

The Barbizon was a village in the Fontainebleau forest.  Rousseau, Millet and Diaz de la Pena lived there with other painters.

Rousseau wanted to marry George Sand's niece.  In his sadness, he decided to isolate himself at the Barbizon.  He spent most of his time in the forest painting and photographing many portraits of nature.

Rousseau influenced Millet in his study of the unfinished Porte aux Vaches, in snow.  Millet attempted to capture the open air quality and the composition that was created by the horizon and by the trees in the background.

Rousseau had many solid friendships, including Jean-Francois Millet, whom he was buried next to in Chailly. 

Paintings by Rousseau

  • Mountain landscape, The fisherman - 1830
  • Sunset in the Auvergne - 1830
  • Paris seen from the heights of Belleville - 1830
  • Fontainebleau Forest, Winter Sunset, 1846
  • The Fisherman - 1848 - 49
  • The forest of Fontainebleau, morning - 1848 - 50
  • Group of Oaks, Apremont, Forest of Fontainebleau - 1852
  • The Edge of the Woods at Monts-Girard, Fontainebleau Forest - 1854

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