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Difference Between Henri Rousseau and Camille Pissarro Paintings

by Suleman

Painting in France was classical in the beginning of the century under the Empire. Romanticism emerged after classical art, where artists learned to cultivate their independence of action in painting. Then Abstraction entered art that was directly related to nature, then gradually Impressionism emerged on the subject of human interpretation and experience. In this period, Henri Rousseau and Camille Pissarro contributed to their skills and paintings.

“The title of one of Henri Rousseau’s paintings is “Exotic Scenery,” which was drawn in 1910. There are several lines that are readily visible in the graphic elements of this work. The roots of the trees, petioles of the trees, branches of the plants and the grasses reveal horizontal lines, diagonal lines, parallel lines and vertical lines. There were inferred or implied diagonal lines that can be seen in the directional gaze of the animals. There were also curve lines in the shape of the body of the animals as well as the leaves of the plants, the stem and the flowers. Jagged lines are also in his work. These can be seen in the wood that is located just beside the gray monkey that is sitting. In aesthetic part, we can perceive that the wood is harsh and decaying. It can be also perceived that the mass of hair of the monkeys are soft and create an illusion of volume or depth. Closed shapes can be seen in the yellow flowers. There are irregular shapes that can be seen which we call them as biomorphic shapes. These shapes can be seen in the leaves, petals of the flowers and shape of the body of the animals. The mass of the yellow flowers are in three dimensional. The shape of the eyes of the two animals hanging on a branch of a plant leads viewers to see the left side part of the painting. The background of some objects looks far away from the other objects in the picture. Depth is created in the picture. Dark colors in front of light colors and vice versa. Primary colors and analogous colors were used in the painting. Monochromatic scheme can also be seen in the monkey that is sitting. Contrast of warm and cool colors can be seen. Shades and tints were also used to produce darker and lighter leaves and stems. There were principles of design that can be observed in this work of art. Patterns were obviously seen in the leaves, grasses, flowers, and stems in order to unify some objects and to give enjoyment. The background is proportioned to the tropical objects. Symmetrical balance principle can be seen in the red grasses, green grasses and the red flowers. Asymmetrical balance can be seen in the white flowers and the in the two big plants located on each side. Repetition can also be seen through the colors, shapes and lines used in the objects of the picture. Contrast of straight lines and curve lines were also used. The painting can be easily identified by the viewers. The subject matter of the painting is a landscape of colorful and different kinds of plants. It is also a picture of a kind of animal, specifically the four monkeys showing different kinds of actions such as hanging, sitting and lying.

Difference Between Henri Rousseau and Camille Pissarro Paintings

            Henri Rousseau is a Frenchman who spent most of his life as an inspector of custom or a toll collector. When he was in his forties that was the time he started painting. He actually learned painting by himself although he admitted that he got some advice from two respected Academic artists who are Jean-Leon Gerome and Felix Auguste-Clement. His painting was mostly about jungles and tropical landscapes although he didn’t visit any jungles but he just depended on some picture books, visiting to the Zoo, Botanical Gardens in Paris and from the stories of some soldiers who survived in the French expedition to Mexico about subtropical countries. Many people considered his paintings as child-like arts. His optimistic character makes him bear great poverty and finally his works lead him become a leading artist of his time. His painting, Exotic Landscape, was done in the Post-Impressionist period and the style of this art is Primitivism art or Naïve art. The medium is oil in canvas. The genre is wildlife.

            On the other hand, one of the paintings Camille Pissarro painted was entitled “Landscape with Flock of Sheep.” In visual elements of this painting, it is obvious that he didn’t used lines but with the used of colors in dots or patches.  The mass is in three dimensional forms. It can be perceived in the flock of sheep. The color of this flock of sheep was darker. Clear objects can be seen in front of the painting and blurred painting can be seen at the back of the painting. The visual texture of the painting is rough because of the thickly applied paint. Shades were also used in the painting to make some parts of the painting darker. The shades can give a sense of space in the painting. Tint can be seen in the background and in the sky to make it brighter. Intensity color such as brown was mostly used in the painting. Other colors like white, yellow, blue, gray and green were used but brown pigment was used over the colors. Patterns and repetition of art can be perceived in the flock of sheep and the clouds. He uses irregular motion. The consistent use of the shape and color create coherence of the painting. The subject matter is about a shepherd who is holding a rod and is tendering a flock of sheep. It is also about the field and the sky. It is the rural life.

            Camille Pissarro was the third child of a Jewish Spanish origin, Frederic Pissarro and a Creole mother, Rachel Petit. He was born in St. Thomas and spent his childhood and early school there. He was already interested in arts in his young age. In his early twenties, he ran off to Venezuela in 1852 and pursued his life as an artist. In 1855, he went back to France where he began outlining and painting about tropical wildlife and scenes of shorelines. The concept of painting about the nature interests him and tends him to paint landscape painting. He also studied at Acadmie Suisse where he met many artists like Claude Monet and Paul Czanne. He became one of the Impressionist painters. He was the only Impressionist artist who took part in all eight Impressionist exhibitions that happened during their time. Throughout his life, he shared his time by teaching his pupils and by painting different kinds of designs from the city of Paris. One of his paintings is the Landscape with Flock of Sheep wherein he painted it in the year 1889 and 1902. The style of art was done in Divisionism style in Neo-Impressionist painting to separate the colors into individual sots or patches. The genre of the painting is a pastoral scene that is made on oil in canvas. The meaning of this piece of art is to defend Camille Pissarro’s standing as the head of the Impressionist group because just like what his biography said, he was the only Impressionist artist who took part in all eight Impressionist exhibitions that happened during their time.

            First and foremost, the difference between the painting Exotic Landscape and the Landscape with Flock of Sheep is the way the two artist used their brushstrokes. For Pissarro, it can be perceived that his brushstroke was used in a quickly manner in order to produce irregular motions in the painting while in the work of Rousseau we can perceived that he uses his brushstroke in a smoothly manner in order to produce a very sophisticated exotic images of tropical landscape. The colors of the two paintings are also very different. Pissarro used primary colors but shaded it with brown color that makes it very dull in color while the Rousseau used colors wherein the effect were striking and strange effect of the appearance. Pissarro’s painting is real which he saw it in the city of Paris while the painting of Rousseau is an imaginary work of art. In the painting of Pissarro, he didn’t used lines in his painting but in the painting of Rousseau, colors in dots or patches were used. The painting of Rousseau is more on imaginary tropical landscape but for Pissarro, it is more on the real image of the rural life of French.

Works Cited
  • Burch, Justin. “St Thomas’ Impressionist Master – Camille Pissarro.” Ezine Articles. 20 Apr 2009. Web. 20 Oct 2011.
  • Labedzki, Annette. “Henri Rousseau – The Life and the Works of the French Post-Impressionist Painter.” Ezine Articles. 13 Jan 2009.Web. 21 Oct 2011.
  • Norton Simon Museum. (2011). Exotic Landscape, 1910. Retrieved October 21, 2011. from: http://www.nortonsimon.org/collections/browse_title.php?id=F.1971.3.P
  • Norton Simon Museum. (2011). Landscape with Flock of Sheep, 1889 and 1902. Retrieved October 21, 2011. from: http://www.nortonsimon.org/collections/browse_title.php?id=P.1964.24

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