Henri Rousseau (`Le Douanier’)

Bouquet of Flowers


Image released under

License this image

Not on display

Original title
Bouquet de fleurs
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 610 × 495 mm
frame: 847 × 730 × 95 mm
Bequeathed by C. Frank Stoop 1933

Display caption

By the time of his death in 1910 the amateur painter Rousseau was acknowledged by Picasso and others as a naturally creative spirit. More than a decade later, his work was treasured by the Surrealists as evidence of the marvellous aspects of the unconscious. They were fascinated by his unconventional style and obsessive imagination, and Andre Breton had a still life comparable to this one beside his desk. It appeared to open a door into Rousseau’s personal world, signalling a unique individuality.

Gallery label, August 2011

Does this text contain inaccurate information or language that you feel we should improve or change? We would like to hear from you.

Catalogue entry

Henri Rousseau 1844-1910

N04727 Bouquet de Fleurs (Bouquet of Flowers) c. 1909-10

Inscribed 'Henri Rousseau' b.r.
Oil on canvas, 24 x 19 1/2 (61 x 49.5)
Bequeathed by C. Frank Stoop 1933
Prov: With Alfred Flechtheim, Düsseldorf; with Bernheim-Jeune, Paris, 1921; Kurt Vollmoeller, Basle; C. Frank Stoop, London, c.1931
Exh: Henri Rousseau, Kunsthalle, Basle, March-April 1933 (25); De Lusthof der Naïeven, Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam, July-September 1964 (26, repr.); Le Monde des Naïfs, Musée National d'Art Moderne, Paris, October-December 1964 (26, repr.); De Grote Naïeven, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, August-October 1974 (6, repr.)
Lit: J.H. Johnstone, 'La Collection Stoop' in L'Amour de l'Art, 1932, p.201, repr. p.198; Jean Bouret, Henri Rousseau (London 1961), p.250, repr. colour pl.21, p.101 (dated 1902-3); Dora Vallier, Tout l'Oeuvre peint de Henri Rousseau (Paris 1970), No.115, pp.84, 100, repr. p.101 (dated 1895-1900)
Repr: Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration, XLVII, 1920, p.25; Médecine de France, No.218, 1971, p.34 (dated 1909)

Rousseau exhibited still lifes of flowers at the Salon des Indépendants in 1902 (1546, 'Bouquet of Flowers'), 1903 (2142, 'Bouquet of Flowers') and 1904 (2028, 'Flowers'). Bouret suggests that this picture was exhibited in either 1902 or 1903, and dates it 1902-3. However these works were neither reproduced nor described in the reviews and there seems to be no means of identifying them.

At the same time this picture is similar in composition to several still lifes undoubtedly executed towards the end of Rousseau's life, and in particular to Vallier No.239, now in the Barnes Foundation, Merion, Pennsylvania, which is probably the picture mentioned in a letter of 22 June 1910 to Jastrebzoff, a former owner, as just completed, and to Vallier Nos.257A and 257B, both of which are dated 1910. Dora Vallier considers that these other three paintings, which are all slightly smaller, are later variants of the Tate's composition, with different arrangements of flowers and certain other modifications. Nos.257A and B are both more hastily executed and less finished. The Barnes Foundation picture, No.239, is almost as detailed as the Tate's but is more freely executed, with a more spatial and complex arrangement of flowers. The vase is roughly the same colour as the one in this picture, and the table top and front are dark bright red, but the background is light green instead of pinkish red.

Vallier is of the opinion that the Tate Gallery's picture must on style be considerably earlier than the other three still lifes, and dates it tentatively 1895-1900 because of its precision of finish and frontal presentation. On the other hand, Anatole Jakovsky has reproduced it in Médecine de France with the date 1909. The compiler favours a dating c.1909-10 on the basis that there are insufficient grounds for placing it so much earlier than the related works, and that it seems contrary to Rousseau's practice to make variants more than a year or two after the original picture.

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.666-7, reproduced p.666

You might like

In the shop