• Fernand Léger - The Mechanic 1920

    Fernand Léger
    The Mechanic
    1920

    National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
    © ADAGP, Paris & DACS, London 2005. Photo: Bridgeman Art Library

Léger, another famous twentieth-century painter, became acquainted with Rousseau through the artist Robert Delaunay in 1907, and paid several visits to ‘Le Douanier’s’ Montparnasse studio. Léger was forty years younger than Rousseau, and although his painting style was very different, he admired Rousseau’s simplified forms, stylised imagery, and the way that he blended emblems of modern life such as telegraph poles and planes into his landscapes.

The pose of Léger’s subject for The Mechanic 1918 echoes Rousseau’s Portrait of Monsieur X (Pierre Loti) c.1910, each figure holding a cigarette in their right hand.

Rousseau’s influence can be discerned in a number of works that Léger produced long after Rousseau’s death. Compare Rousseau’s snake-like branches in The Banks of the Bièvre near Bicêtre 1908 for instance, to the bare branches of Léger’s The Tree 1925.

Henri Rousseau - The Banks of the Bièvre near Bicêtre 1908

Henri Rousseau
The Banks of the Bièvre near Bicêtre
1908

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Fernand Léger - The Tree 1925

Fernand Léger
The Tree
1925

Sprengel Museum Hannover.
© ADAGP, Paris & DACS, London 2005. Photo: Michael Herling / Aline Gwose, Sprengel Museum Hannover