La Maison de Garde - Ferme dans les Landes
(Pierre Etienne Theodore Rousseau)


From the 1830s until the triumph of landscape art at the 1867 Exposition Universelle, Théodore Rousseau was the most consistently controversial landscape painter working in France. His strong colours and bold paint touches, along with his penchant for unusual natural sites and surprising viewpoints, made Rousseau’s works a compelling counterpoint to the subtle lighting and lyrical mood that characterised the landscapes of Corot.

Rousseau grew up in Paris, the son of a tailor, and he received his first drawing lessons from a relative, the landscapist Pau de Saint-Martin. At thirteen he spent a year in the mountainous Franche-Comté working at a sawmill and he returned to the capital with a sketchbook full of woodland scenes and animal studies. In 1827 he entered the studio of Jean-Charles-Joseph Rémond, a landscape artist working in the officially promoted classical style. Copying in the Louvre, Rousseau studied both the carefully structured Italianate landscapes of Claude Lorrain and the more realistic country scenes of Dutch masters such as van de Velde and Dujardin. At the same time, he continued to paint in the woodlands around Paris where his friendship with Paul Huet introduced him to a much freer, more personalised landscape style and to the example of the English artists Bonington and Constable. During a lengthy summer trip through the Auvergne in 1830, Rousseau began to establish an independent style entirely his own. The forceful paint touches and unusual viewpoints of his sketches from that Auvergne voyage brought him the admiration of Ary Scheffer, a major force in the new Romantic movement.

Rousseau exhibited at the Salon for the first time in 1831 and three years later he won a third class medal for a painting of a recently cut timberland — a very unusual subject. But by 1836, Rousseau’s intense colouring and startling compositions made his pictures stand out as a direct threat to the more traditional landscape style promoted by Academic authorities. The Salon jury rejected his large painting of The Descent of the Cattle that year, achieving a succès de scandale among young artists and their liberal supporters. For the next five years, Salon juries consistently refused Rousseau’s paintings, until he stopped attempting to exhibit. Throughout the late 1830s and the 1840s, Rousseau became a powerful force by his absence from the Salon and he acquired the nickname Le Grand Refusé. His pictures were occasionally exhibited privately in Paris and from time to time major paintings were illustrated in various periodicals. Influential members of the Romantic generation such as Eugène Delacroix and the novelist George Sand drew attention to Rousseau’s cause. During these years, Rousseau travelled widely throughout France, often with fellow painter Jules Dupré; and around 1846-47 he moved to Barbizon as one of the first landscapists to make the tiny village just outside the Forest of Fontainebleau his permanent home. Only with the brief liberalisation that followed the Revolution of 1848 did Rousseau return to the Salon exhibition. For the next seventeen years he exhibited regularly, precipitously rising and falling in public and critical esteem as he pressed forward with his own experiments in landscape painting. His Japoniste colours and pointilliste techniques often disturbed avant garde critics as much as they offended more conservative writers. Finally, an impressive retrospective of his major Salon paintings at the Exposition Universelle of 1867 (along with a ground-breaking dealer’s exhibition of his early paintings and sketches) established Rousseau’s leadership of the new school of French landscape beyond challenge.

64.5 x 99 cm
Oil on canvas

Bought from the artist by Frédéric Hartmann, Paris, in 1852 or 1853, but not delivered until after the artist’s death.
His sale, Paris, 18 rue de Courcelles (Hartmann’s home), 7 May 1881, lot 16.
Madame Hartmann (bought-in or purchased on her behalf at the above sale).
Galerie Brame, Paris, bought 24 December 1907 (inv. no. 2020).
Bought from the above by Baillehache, 6 May 1909.
Vicomte de Curel, Paris.
His sale, Paris, Galerie Georges Petit, 3 May 1918, lot 16.
L. Tauber, Paris.
Thence by descent to Monsieur Baveret, Paris, 1945.
Private collection, Paris.
Bought from the above by the father of the present owner.
Portuguese private collection.


A. Sensier, Souvenirs sur Théodore Rousseau, Paris, 1872, pp. 145, 219, 221, 241-242, 281, 285-286, 289, 292-293, 306, 368.
Amand-Durand & A. Sensier, Études et croquis de Théodore Rousseau, Paris, 1876, no. 20.
W. Gensel, Millet und Rousseau, Bielefeld, 1902, p. 74, abb. 6, (illustrated, as Die Farm).
P. Dorbec, Théodore Rousseau, Paris, 1910, pp. 83, 100 (illustrated p. 85.)
P. Miquel, L’École de la nature: Le paysage français au XIXè siècle, 1824-1874, Maurs-la-Jolie, 1975, vol. III, pp. 405-407.
M. Schulman, Théodore Rousseau, Catalogue raisonné de l’oeuvre peint, 1997, pp. 183, 367, no. 271 (illustrated.)
G.M. Thomas, Art and Ecology in Nineteenth-Century France, Princeton, 2000, pp. 61, 109-110, 143, 145-147, 206, no. 62 (illustrated.)
S. Kelly, “The patronage of Frédéric Hartmann and the question of ‘finish'”, The Burlington Magazine, no. 1170, vol. CXLII, September 2000, pp. 549-560 (illustrated.)
S. Kelly, “‘Fermes dans les Landes’: a rediscovered painting by Théodore Rousseau”, The Burlington Magazine, No. 1184, Vol. CXLIII, November 2001, pp. 687-690 (illustrated.)


Paris, Salon, 1859, no. 2637.
Paris, Louvre, Tableaux exposés au profit de l’oeuvre des orphelins d’Alsace Lorraine, 1885, no. 421 (as Forêt de Fontainebleau; la maison du garde).
Paris, Galerie George Petit, Cent chefs-d’oeuvre des écoles françaises et

Where is It?
Acquired through The Matthiesen Gallery by the Clark Museum Williamstown 2009
Historical Period
Romanticism - 1810-1870 & Realism to Impressionism - 1840-1900
Price band
Sold or not available