Palazzo Ducale

Doge's Palace

HENRI ROUSSEAU. Archaic candour

Room 6

Archaic candour

March 6 – July 5, 2015
Venice, Palazzo Ducale – Doge’s Apartment


Extended until September 6, 2015



This room is devoted to a particular aspect of the Douanier’s workand to connections with works by other artists whose significance extends, however, far beyond direct iconographic reference.

Degas, Odilon Redon, Toulouse-Lautrec and Pissarro left us no critical judgements on the Douanier. The now forgotten critic Gustave Coquiot described him 1888 as a naturalistic painter who sometimes attained classical beauty, which is much less far-fetched than it may sound.” This is what the critic Giovanni Artieri wrote in 1969 in his introduction to Dora Vallier’s general catalogue of Rousseau’s work.

Giorgio Morandi, who discovered and admired Rousseau’s work in the 1910s through the publications circulating in Italy at the time, also spoke of beauty and compared the artist to Cézanne, whose Apples and Oranges, on show here, is one of the most important still-life works produced by the master from Aix-en-Provence in the late 1890s.

The work by the Master of the Lombard Fruit Bowl bears witness also in this room to the contiguity between the ancient vision and the archaism of the modern masters. In the case of Paula Modersohn-Becker too, the relationship with Rousseau was one of influence rather than direct derivation.

The archaic atmospheres of the German painter, often associated with the Brücke group, recall the “purification” achieved by the Douanier in his works. There was instead first-hand contact between Rousseau and Soffici, the first to make his art known in Italy, who also commissioned the still life with a coffee pot exhibited here in March 1910.

Soffici’s article ‘Henri Rousseau’, published in the Florentine magazine La Voce on 15 September 1910, was the first to appear on the painter in Italy.