140. Théodore Rousseau

Paris 1812 – 1867 Barbizon

Panoramic Landscape near the River Moselle, c. 1830

Rousseau also studied under Jean-Charles-Joseph Rémond (cat. 122), whose workshop he joined in late 1826 shortly after the master’s return from Italy. The young artist famously found his teacher’s neoclassical aesthetic rather unappealing, though he was greatly inspired by Rémond’s Italian plein air oil studies. Rousseau himself never travelled to Italy and abandoned his quest for the Prix de Rome in 1829, concentrating instead on studying the French countryside. He travelled widely, yet the forest of Fontainebleau remained his main source of inspiration and he became the leading painter of the Barbizon school. These three views (cat. 139, 140 and 141) are painted in the panoramic format favoured by the artist in the early 1830s. The repeating rows of slender poplars form a recognizable pattern in the compositions which were probably painted in the same region. Inscriptions along the lower edge of the Fitzwilliam picture (cat. 139) appear to identify the villages seen in the distance as Richardménil, Flavigny, Méréville, and Messein, all located along the River Moselle just south of Nancy. Though the brushwork varies significantly, we recognise Rousseau’s striking naturalism which set him apart from the French academic tradition. The high level of finish brought to the larger panorama (cat. 140) suggests that it was likely finished in the studio.