TAKE  THIS  JOB  AND  .   .   .
December 1, 1893   Henri missed out on the  Bagnolet painting job,  and  “Mr. President” did not buy Rousseau’s paintings. To be truthful, I  think almost no-one was buying his paintings at this time. Despite these disappointments, Henri picked himself up, and with the optimism and hope and a little bit of over-confidence that is common to dreamers, he retired from the  Customs Office.  His pension was 1,019 francs/year – not enough to live on.  But he felt sure, now that he could paint full-time, he would be able to bring in enough extra income to make ends meet.  I’m sure that Henri even thought that since he could devote all his time to painting, it would only be a matter of time till his talents would be recognized, and he would achieve the fame and financial success he so desired.

1894  TENTH SALON of the INDEPENDENTS (April 6 – May 27)
Henri completed 4 paintings for the Salon, including Portrait of a Child, Portrait of M.J. and Decorative Panel. But his pièce de résistance, the painting that arrested the attention of the visitors, was War (La Guerre).  He wrote, “The War, terrifying, she passes, leaving despair, crying and ruin everywhere.”  War was his largest painting thus far:  almost 4′  tall” and over 6′ wide (114 X 195 cm. ), which was even larger than Surprised.

War (La guerre) | Henri Rousseau | 1894 Salon of the Independents | courtesy of Musée d'Orsay, Paris

War (La guerre) | Henri Rousseau | 1894 Salon of the Independents | courtesy of Musée d’Orsay, Paris

In 1889, Henri wrote a comedy entitled, A Visit to the World’s Fair of 1889. One of the characters in his story, Monsieur Lebozeck, says “War is so sad and ugly.  Why make those poor guys kill one another like that; how awful, how awful!” [Yann le Pichon, p.220]  Wilhelm Uhde came to Paris in 1904, and in the later years of Rousseau’s life he became one of Henri Rousseau’s personal friends. He wrote in his biography, Recollections of Henri Rousseau, that Henri hated war. “‘If a king tries to start a war,’ he declared with great gravity, ‘a mother should go to him and forbid it.'”  Henri was familiar with war. He probably had seen  Francisco Goya‘s prints, The Disasters of War.  And although Henri himself did not go to Mexico, over 6,000 of his fellow soldiers died in that war.  He had also seen the destruction of human life in the Franco-Prussian War.  Then there were many thousands killed when the Communards fought with the government soldiers in the streets of Paris.  Henri could have painted a nice landscape, but he painted war as it really was: horrible and ugly – thousands, maybe tens of thousands of sons, husbands and fathers scattered over the field of battle, shot through with cannons, cut up with swords, body parts chopped off, and run over by the horses — dead, dying and bleeding to death.

Strangely enough, Henri Rousseau’s “War” went missing until after  many more millions of people had been killed in World War 1 and World War 2. In 1943 Louis Angué bought “War” from a farmer in Louviers, France. And from there it passed through two art galleries until it was purchased by les Musées nationaux in 1946 and preserved in the Louvre.  And it is today in the Musée d’Orsay.

The old train station at Montparnasse, Paris

The old train station at Montparnasse, Paris

By all accounts, Henri’s daughter, Julia was a good girl, and now a young lady, about age 18 (June 11). Julia and her mother were close, since she was the only daughter of Henri and Clemence who survived childhood. Being the oldest child, she would have helped take care of Clemence while she was dying from tuberculosis. Julia also had to assume many of the responsibilities in the house; cooking, laundry, cleaning, shopping, etc. She was nearly 12 when her mother died. Certainly it was very sad for her, and she treasured every remembrance of her mother. Then, since her father was working many hours and also doing his paintings, Julia had almost all the household responsibilities, including taking care of her brother, Henri-Anatole Rousseau, who was about 3 years younger.

Julia had the creative talent of an artist. She had learned some sewing from her mother, who was a seamstress, and she learned painting from her father. At age 13,  one of her paintings,  My First by Julia Rousseau, Born in Paris,  was entered in the 1890 Salon of the Independents.  Later, in 1905, she exhibited a tapestry panel in the  Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts (National Society of Fine Arts).

Julia was embarrassed by all the negative criticism of her father in the press, and she did not appreciate his paintings. After Henri’s death, Wilhelm Uhde visited Julia to see if she had any of her father’s paintings. Julia “had only one small picture. The others   .   .   .    had ‘luckily’ been destroyed.” [Recollections, p.77].  In later years her perception of her father’s work became a little more favorable;  she decided not to frame her opinion of her father based on what other people said about him.

Julia was the woman of the house after her mother died, and she did her best to take the responsibilities in the place of her mother.  But there was trouble when Gabrielle came. Obviously there was conflict. Gabrielle was interfering with what Julia had always done; their living quarters were more cramped; and the family bond which the children had with their father was interrupted by this stranger, Gabrielle. Julia and Henri-Anatole despised her. Also, Julia was a faithful Roman Catholic, a good moral person like her mother, and she would not have approved of her father and Gabrielle living together when they were not married.

Henri believed in God and the brotherhood of man; and I think that in each of his two marriages he was faithful to his wife. But in the process of time, Henri had turned against organized religion.  I do not believe that Henri was “bohemian” or hedonistic, but his art began to be influenced by some of the other contemporary artists. Also, he apparently had some “models” come in to pose for his paintings.  Wilhelm Uhde said of Henri, “in his innocence he played the bachelor much too freely in her [Julia’s] presence. [Recollectios, p.38]  Some of what was going on in the house was clearly an affront to the sensibilities of the young lady.

Add to this the fact that Henri was making less money now, and there was not enough to buy sufficient groceries.

Julia was about 18. She had done as best as she could, but she was disappointed with some of the things going on in the house and not having enough food. Maybe she was tired of the neighborhood in their low-rent district. She needed a little more of the things that a woman appreciates in a home. Her aunt, Anatolie Rozé, Henri’s older sister, said Julia could live with her in Angers. (Anatolie had also taken care of her  mother till she died.)  It was a sad day when Henri and Julia got on the train to Angers. Henri later wrote, ”  .  .  .  at the insistence of the doctor, I left my daughter. I thus was very sad when I returned to Paris, having to work and being all alone.” [Yann le Pichon, p.257]

NEXT: PART 16 | Ambroise Vollard – the art dealer GO TO PART 16

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
6: Henri Rousseau | Sunday Painter | Love and Life in Paris GO TO PART 6
7. Henri Rousseau | Six Children Died / Only Julia Lived Past Age 18. GO TO PART 7
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

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

Enfant de Fleur: Authentic, Unretouched Portrait by Henri Rousseau: GO TO PORTRAIT
Enfant de Fleur/Flower Child: Child Portraits Compared: GO TO CHILD PORTRAITS
Enfant de Fleur: Is Flower Child his granddaughter ? GO TO GRANDDAUGHTER
Henri Rousseau Paintings in Museums around the World GO TO MUSEUM PAGE
Enfant de Fleur/Flower Child: Fine Art Investment Opportunity GO TO OPPORTUNITY

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