Palazzo Ducale

Doge's Palace

HENRI ROUSSEAU. Archaic candour

Room 12

Archaic candour

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


Extended until September 6, 2015



With its solemn, frontal figures hovering over the grassand the disproportionately large dog, a classic symbol of fidelity, the Wedding Party is one of Rousseau’s masterpieces.

As in other works by the Douanier, white is used for vertical elements such as the bride’s dress and veil, the trunks of the trees and the faces, and black to a greater extent for horizontals like the dog, the jackets in the background and the men’s moustaches.

The Mellerio Family, painted by Maurice Denis in 1897, again presents a two-dimensional, frontal approach but with the figures interacting in intimate dialogue, unlike what happens in the Wedding Party. Paul Sérusier’s Breton Girl Seated, shown at the Salon des Indépendants in 1895, is instead subdued but almost threatening.

Frontality also characterizes Carrà’s Romantics (1916), another work indebted to the Douanier. As shown by the documents in the showcases, 1914 had already seen the publication of a monographic issue of the Florentine magazine La Voce devoted to Rousseau and interest on the part of the new school of Magical Realism. 1922 then saw the publication of a monograph on Rousseau with a study by Roch Grey, the pseudonym of Hélène d’Oettingen, a friend of Rousseau and collector of his work as well as a link with Italians Ardengo Soffici and Carlo Carrà.

Together with documents in the showcases, it is precisely Carrà’s emblematic work that is presented here at the end of the exhibition to bear witness to the Douanier’s lasting legacy, whose importance was to some degree affectionately understood by the group of artists, including Renoir, Picasso, Delaunay, Brâncuși and many others, who formed a committee to erect a epitaph written in his honour by Apollinaire in the cemetery of Bagneux.