CLEMENCE  BOITARD –  MON  CHER  AMOUR  

Now a young man, Henri Rousseau set out to seek his fortune in the big city.  He rented an apartment in Paris, and at some point became employed as a bailiff’s assistant.  A bailiff was in some ways like a district magistrate and handled disputes between a landlord and a tenant (?).

His landlady was a seamstress and recently widowed. His landlady also had a lovely 18 year-old daughter (soon to be 19), Jeanne-Desiree-Clemence Boitard. (Clemence Boitard’s father had wasted his living in gambling and died when Clemence was 17.)

Jeanne-Desiree-Clemence Boitard, Henri Rousseau's first wife

Jeanne-Desiree-Clemence Boitard, Henri Rousseau’s first wife

Henri fell in love with Clemence. He was passionate, persistent and persuasive. Soon they were engaged, and on August 14, 1869, Henri (age 25) and Clemence (age 19) were married.

135  RUE  DE  SEVRES,  PARIS

The Rousseaus, newly married, lived in this apartment in the big city of Paris. (Henri lived here until after the death of Clemence.) The apartment building is no longer there. It was torn down in 1975.)

Henri and Clemence Rousseau lived in this apartment in Paris, 135  Rue de Sevres.

Henri and Clemence Rousseau lived in this apartment in Paris, 135 Rue de Sevres.

AU BON MARCHE Department Store

Au Bon Marche was the first department store in France. The store was huge, with a grand range of merchandise and hundreds of employees.  In 1872, the store had just re-opened in larger and more elegant quarters within walking distance, and on the same street, as the Rousseau apartment.  Clemence’s mother had taught her how to sew, and Clemence brought extra income into the family by using her sewing skills to fashion clothing designs and patterns. At the Au Bon Marche, Henri started buying his painting supplies, and Clemence picked out her fabrics.

Au Bon Marche department store,  Rue de Sevres, Paris, France (circa 1900)

Au Bon Marche department store, Rue de Sevres, Paris, France (circa 1900)

Henri Rousseau’s new job in the Paris Customs Office.

In January, 1871, Henri quit his job as a bailiff’s assistant. He did not like evicting poor people and seizing their property. He remembered the pains from his own childhood when his family was evicted from their home.  In February, 1872, age 27, Henri started working for the Customs Office.  Paris had many gates around the city, and a tax was charged on merchandise brought into the city.

SUNDAYS  IN  FRANCE.

The church bells rang.  Sunday was a time to enjoy French cuisine, to put on nice clothes, to visit with friends and family. Men and women labored  long hours through the week so they could enjoy Sunday. On Sundays, Henri and Clemence went to the races at the Hippodrome of Longchamp, they went for walks under the trees in the park or visited the Jardin du Luxembourg, they went to the theater, or they visited Clemence’s relatives. Henri might play his violin. And also, before long, Henri started to become aSunday painter“.

When did Henri start painting?

In the 1884 letter, Henri said, “I learned only a bit of drawing when I was young.“ Yann le Pichon [p. 251] says Henri began painting in 1872, which would have been about the same time he started working for the toll service for the City of Paris.

Below is possibly Henri Rousseau’s first known painting, 1875-1877 (?).

Landscape with Bridge, 1875-1877(?), is possibly the earliest known painting by Henri Rousseau.

Landscape with Bridge, 1875-1877(?), is possibly the earliest known painting by Henri Rousseau.

Yann le Pichon [p. 252] says Rousseau painted “a small war scene set in a snow-covered village,” dated January, 1877.

Below is Wagon in Front of the Mill, dated 1879, one of Henri Rousseau’s early paintings, (courtesy of the Konstmuseum – Gothenburg, Sweden).

Wagon in Front of the Mill, 1879, one of Henri Rousseau's earliest paintings (Konstmuseum - Gothenburg, Sweden)

Wagon in Front of the Mill, 1879, one of Henri Rousseau’s earliest paintings (Konstmuseum – Gothenburg, Sweden)

NEXT: SIX CHILDREN DIED / ONLY JULIA LIVED PAST AGE 18.  GO TO PART 7

1. The Story of a Man determined to be one of the Greatest Painters in France GO TO PART 1
2. Born in FRANCE|Kings & Castles|Revolution|Napoleon|Victor Hugo GO TO PART 2
3. Henri Rousseau | His Family and Childhood GO TO PART 3
4. Henri Rousseau | SOLDIER BOY GO TO PART 4
8. Henri Rousseau | Paris Customs Office (The Douanier) | Painting on the Job GO TO PART 8
9. Henri Rousseau | 1884 – not good enough | The French Art Salons GO TO PART 9
10. Henri Rousseau | 1885 Debut | 1886 A Carnival Evening GO TO CHAPTER 10
11. Henri Rousseau | Adieu, Mon Cher Amour. GO TO PART 11
12. Henri Rousseau | 1889 World’s Fair GO TO PART 12
13. Henri Rousseau | 1891 | Surprised!  GO TO PART 13
14. Henri Rousseau | Looking for Love in Paris | 1893 | Moving to Montparnasse GO TO PART 14
15. Henri Rousseau | full-time painter | “War” in 1894 | Julia: “Au revoir, papa” GO TO PART 15
16. Henri Rousseau | Ambroise Vollard – the art dealer GO TO PART 16
17. Henri Rousseau | Alfred Jarry | More on “War”| Paul Gauguin GO to PART 17
18. Henri Rousseau | 1895 Paintings |short Autobiography GO TO PART 18

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