In this painting Ivry Quay 1907, factory chimneys and metal bridges blend harmoniously into a scene of Parisians strolling in their Sunday best. In the sky Rousseau depicts the airship La Patrie, which at the time was the most advanced military aircraft in the world and a source of national pride. Yet rather than gaze in wonder at this technological marvel, the people in the painting barely notice it as it hovers benignly in a peaceful summer sky.
Rousseau’s self-portrait includes a number of icons of modernity in the background, including the Eiffel Tower, which had been built just one year earlier for the 1889 Paris World’s Fair. Rousseau greatly admired this supreme feat of engineering, unlike many of his fellow Parisians who considered it an eyesore.
Rousseau was fascinated by hot-air balloons and planes, and included them in his paintings, as here in The Anglers (The Fishermen and the Biplane) 1908. He, along with many other Parisians, would have been excited to see the many types of balloons, planes and airships on display at the 1909 International Air Show in Paris.