Lot 59
  • 59

Henri Rousseau

500,000 - 700,000 USD
545,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Henri Rousseau
  • La Seine à Suresnes
  • Signed Henri Rousseau (lower left)
  • Oil on canvas
  • 18 1/8 by 21 3/4 in.
  • 46.1 by 55.2 cm


Galerie L'Effort Moderne (Léonce Rosenberg), Paris

Acquired by the family of the present owners in the 1930s and thence by descent



Paris, La Grande Maison de Blanc, Douanier Rousseau, 1925

Catalogue Note

Rousseau painted this moonlit landscape in Suresnes, a suburb west of Paris just beyond Puteaux which would later become the epicenter of the Salon Cubists. The artist angles the composition towards the city, juxtaposing the relative calm of these riverbanks with an icon of the industrial age - the Eiffel Tower. Gustave Eiffel constructed his tower in 1889 as an entrance to the World's Fair. Shortly after its conception, writers and artists such as Guy de Maupassant and Adolphe Bougereau viewed the tower as a monstrosity and vehemently protested its construction. The completed structure, originally meant to be temporary, was viewed with such controversial awe that it remained, becoming one of the most important landmarks in Europe. Rousseau celebrates the controversial emblem of France in this painting, softening its harsh angularity into a gently bending form that appears part of the organic landscape.

Though he is often referred to as an untrained artist, Henri Rousseau put forth a sophisticated approach to representation in his paintings. Though La Seine à Suresnes is characterized by the childlike honesty of Rousseau's style, the work also presents a tactility of form that would become a beacon for future generations of artists - Picasso and Derain, for example would turn to Rousseau's example in the early stages of Cubism. The simplified geometries of the domestic structures, fortress and rolling hills in the present composition are indeed startling and their influence can be seen in art of the avant-garde. The contemporary critic Gustave Coquiot wrote that Rosseau had “such style, such inventiveness, such a rare deployment of qualities; and above all he offers such a love, such personal generosity, such a gift of his naked heart, such absence of falsehood, of insincerity, that we can rightly speak of Rousseau’s contribution to painting as both generous and unique” (quoted in Henri Rousseau (exhibition catalogue), The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1985, p. 37).