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Théodore Rousseau, 'River Scene', about 1840-60

Key facts
Full title River Scene
Artist Théodore Rousseau
Artist dates 1812 - 1867
Date made about 1840-60
Medium and support Oil on wood, probably oak
Dimensions 31.4 × 40.3 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Presented by Hans Velten, 1909
Inventory number NG2439
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
River Scene
Théodore Rousseau

In the middle distance, a solitary figure fishes from a flat-bottomed boat or punt moored in an inlet of water, which may be part of a river estuary. Although there are trees, the landscape is flat and marshy with small rivulets running through it. The thin strip of grey-blue on the horizon suggests a further expanse of open water, perhaps a wide river or the sea. The absence of dramatic or picturesque effects enhances the slightly melancholic mood.

The picture is similar to Rousseau’s river landscapes of the 1850s, which were all studio compositions based on scenery along the west coast of France. It is likely he painted it in the studio as a souvenir of visits to the Loire river, or perhaps to the Lay river in the Vendée.

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