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Definition: Rousseau, Théodore from Philip's Encyclopedia

French painter, leading member of the Barbizon School. He was a pioneer of the open-air movement in landscape painting, and from 1836 worked in the Forest of Fontainebleau near Paris. His works include Under the Birches, Evening (1842-44).


Summary Article: Rousseau, (Pierre Etienne) Théodore (1812–1867) from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

French painter. One of the major figures in the development of the modern French landscape, he led the movement against the then prevailing academic style, introducing a new freshness and naturalism. He became the leader of the Barbizon School.

Influenced by the English landscape painters Constable and Richard Bonington, he sketched from nature in many parts of France. His lack of success in the Salons, which earned him the title of ‘le grand refusé’ (‘the great refused’), caused him to withdraw to Barbizon in the forest of Fontainebleau 1848, which to his romantic spirit was the essence of the wild. Though based on a close study of nature, his works are often deeply melancholy.

He was a pupil of his cousin, Pau de St Martin, and two other minor landscapists. While living in Barbizon he was joined by Jules Dupré, Diaz de la Peña, and Millet, the four artists forming the core of the Barbizon School. The melancholy, which the writer Charles Baudelaire remarked on, in his darkly toned pictures of forest glades was due to his own temperament and to the mood caused by the mental derangement of his wife, but he is also notable for an objective approach to nature. He became successful in the 1850s.

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