Palazzo Ducale

Doge's Palace

HENRI ROUSSEAU. Archaic candour

Room 8

Archaic candour

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


Extended until September 6, 2015



Seeking admittance to the ranks of France’s official painters, Rousseau painted various works for competitions held by the city councilof Paris, like the Carmagnole, and others to celebrate particular national events, such as The Representatives of Foreign Powers Coming to Salute the Republic as a Sign of Peace, shown at the Indépendants in 1907.

He hoped that this would be purchased by the state but it was instead to enter Picasso’s collection in 1927. The painting by Liberale da Verona displayed alongside once again engages Rousseau’s work in a dialogue with the primitivism of the early Italian masters.Rousseau alternated seamlessly between depictions of official events and celebrations and works addressing everyday life and subjects drawn from popular, folk art.

His view of the Pont de Grenelle is close in format to the Carmagnole and Old Junier’s Cart, one of his most renowned canvases, may have been based on a photograph. It is characterized by bright, contrasting colours and by the expressive immediacy of popular paintings like the 19th-century votive painting on show here. Evident similarities with Rousseau’s work are also to be found in Carrà’s masterpiece The Carriage (1916), which hangs alongside it here.

The Football Players
is instead a vivid representation of modern life drawn from current events. It was painted in 1908, when rugby had just become one of the European sports, the first international match having taken place at the beginning of the century between France and England.

In Paris the teams trained at the time in the Bois de Boulogne. Rousseau shows the trees, thickly clad in tiny autumnal leaves, spread out like a backdrop around players captured in dance-like motion. Hanging alongside is a dynamic work by his friend Delaunay on a similar subject.