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Théodore Rousseau. The voice of the Forest

5 March 2024 7 July 2024
In spring 2024, the Petit Palais will present a major exhibition devoted to the painter Théodore Rousseau (1812-1867), who made nature his main motif, his world and his refuge. As the leader of the colony of artists who frequented the village of Barbizon and the forest of Fontainebleau, he spent long hours wandering the forest alone, sketching on the spot before producing his final works in his studio....

His love of nature soon turned into a battle, and for this reason, he can be considered a true proto-ecologist: along with other artists and writers, Rousseau took a new look at the forest of Fontainebleau, which led to the protection of part of it under the name of the famous "artistic reserves" (1853), a first in a world in the throes of industrialisation.

Both a romantic and a realist, Rousseau aspired to capture the harmony of the world, by mixing his soul with it. He blurred the boundaries between painting and drawing, between sketch and finished work. He experimented, adding matter and tirelessly retouching his canvases, going so far as to overload them to bring out the life of the forests. As Baudelaire wrote, he was a "naturalist constantly drawn towards the ideal", and played a fundamental role in establishing a new French school of landscape painting in the mid-nineteenth century, paving the way for Impressionism.

This exhibition has been organized with the exceptional participation of the musée du Louvre and musée d'Orsay.


Annick Lemoine, Chief Heritage Curator, Director of the Petit Palais, Head Curator

Servane Dargnies-de Vitry, Curator of Paintings at the Musée d'Orsay

1 exhibition


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