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Théodore Rousseau, A Rocky Landscape

Key facts
Full title A Rocky Landscape
Artist Théodore Rousseau
Artist dates 1812 - 1867
Date made about 1836-40
Medium and support Oil on millboard
Dimensions 27.9 × 43.5 cm
Acquisition credit Presented by A.E. Anderson to the Tate Gallery through the Art Fund, 1926; transferred, 1956
Inventory number NG4170
Location On loan: Théodore Rousseau. The revelation of nature, Petit Palais, Musée des Beaux Arts de la Ville de Paris, Paris, France
Collection Main Collection
A Rocky Landscape
Théodore Rousseau

A sandy path runs down the middle of a rocky barren ravine. This view, with its high horizon and full-frontal close-up depiction of the path and rocks, is particularly original. The location is probably that of Les Sables du Jean-de-Paris, a sandy hillside topped with boulders and trees within the Gorges d’Apremont, in the Forest of Fontainebleau. It was one of the areas particularly favoured by Rousseau, who painted a number of views in the vicinity.

Other painters associated with the Barbizon School, including Narcisse Diaz, also painted in the area, but none of his views quite match this composition for its audacity. Rousseau’s paint handling is also bold. The central path and rocks to either side are finished in heavy grey and cream paint, thickly applied with a dry brush and possibly a palette knife, resulting in a highly textured and fragmented surface.

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