The Glyptotek Adds an Important Théodore Rousseau to its Collection of French Paintings

At Christie’s Auctions in New York on 31st October 2018 the Glyptotek acquired the work Le chêne de roche (The Rock Oak), painted in 1860 by the French artist Théodore Rousseau (1812-1867). The painting was donated by the New Carlsberg Foundation who have, in this way, secured a worthy addition to Rousseau’s presence in the Glyptotek’s collection of French painting.

With the acquisition of Le chêne de roche the Glyptotek adds an iconic masterpiece from Rousseau’s hand to its collection. The work dates from 1860, and Rousseau exhibited it as early as the following year at the renowned Paris Salon. The picture constitutes a central work in understanding the painter’s technique and view of nature.

In 2016 Le chêne de roche, which is painted on wood and measures 88.9 x 116.8 cm, was exhibited at the Glyptotek as part of the special exhibition Théodore Rousseau. Unruly Nature (2016-2017) on which the museum collaborated with The J. Paul Getty Museum in USA. Now the work is to become a part of the Glyptotek’s permanent collection.

Rousseau in the Glyptotek’s Collection

“In supplementing our collection with this work the Glyptotek will, in the best way, exhibit and demonstrate the range in Théodore Rousseau’s work – from the loosely painted, almost unfinished sketches to the meticulously worked out paintings with their extraordinary degree of detail”, says Christine Buhl Andersen, Director of the Glyptotek. “It is exceptionally rare that we can acquire this kind of masterpiece, and that this particular picture, which has already featured in a research-based exhibition at the museum, should come up for sale was a chance in a million”.

Today, with the acquisition of Le chêne de roche the collection contains no fewer than nine works by the French landscape pioneer. The Glyptotek’s collection of beautiful landscapes and crooked trees is utterly representative of the artist: from the earliest composition in the museum’s holdings – Landscape from the Auvergne / Landscape from the Region of Lake Geneva – begun in 1829 by a very young Rousseau – to the late works, such as The Woods and Apple Trees of Belle-Marie (ca. 1860-62) or The Gorges of Apremont (post 1862).

Influential Innovator

“Despite his enormous significance Rousseau has long languished in the shadow cast by the next generation of French painters – particularly the Impressionists. But he is far more different from, and more important than just an overture to Monet and Co. His awakening abstraction and experimental brushstrokes make him one of the most influential innovators in 19th century landscape paintings. And, therefore, it is also tremendously satisfying that the Glyptotek has been able to acquire such a significant major work for the museum’s already impressive collection,” says Karsten Ohrt, Chairman of the New Carlsberg Foundation.

The Tree as Motif in Rousseau

From the very beginning of Rousseau’s career, trees play the unmistakably paramount role, and Le chêne de roche (The Rock Oak) is one of the most colour-saturated, intense treatments of the motif with its dense, dabbed brushstrokes. This painting of ancient, twisted oak trees standing among moss-covered rocks was the only picture Rousseau submitted to the Salon in 1816. At this point in time contemporary interest in his work was fading and he hoped that the picture would boost his reputation. The work is one of the largest he ever painted on wood and the only one he reproduced as an etching, and this made a considerable impression on the critics.

The picture will be on exhibition to the public from the beginning of 2019.

Le chêne de roche
(The Rock Oak)
1860
Oil on wood
88.9 x 116.8 cm

Inv.no. MIN 3713