The Banks Of The Oise
© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

Though often derided by critics of the period as an amateurish “Sunday painter,” Rousseau was celebrated by younger avant-garde artists, including Pablo Picasso, who saw in his idiosyncratic works an evocation of modernity. In 1913, the critic Blaise Cendrars characterized Rousseau’s art as eluding easy classification: “Glorious and maladroit, awkward and elegant, [his] work . . . defies all domineering or dogmatic criticism.”

This is one of a number of bucolic landscapes that Rousseau painted in the Île-de-France region around Paris. The larger trees closely resemble those in his other paintings, while the dappled brushwork in the background creates a subtle screen of autumnal foliage. The sturdy cattle dwarf their archaic-looking herdsman, who wears a Phrygian cap, a soft conical hat first worn by the ancient Greeks. This classical element was the kind of historical reference that Rousseau routinely inserted into his landscapes to lend them an air of fantasy and imagination.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Henri Rousseau, French (Laval France 1844 - 1910 Paris France)
The Banks of the Oise
Work Type
c. 1907
Level 1, Room 1220, European Art, 19th–20th century, Collection of Maurice Wertheim, Class of 1906
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Physical Descriptions
Oil on canvas
33 x 46 cm (13 x 18 1/8 in.)
framed: 54.3 x 67 x 5.7 cm (21 3/8 x 26 3/8 x 2 1/4 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: l. r.: H. Rousseau [underlined]
  • inscription: back of stretcher: Bords de l'Oise, 1907
  • label: old backing board: The Santini Brothers Inc. N.Y.C., N.Y. / 10"
  • label: old backing board, ink? on a piece of tape, handwritten: MIA 6458
  • exhibition label: old backing board: MMFA - 6/21
  • label: old backing board: Box #2/3 of 6
  • label: old backing board: Day and Meyer, Murray & Young / Piece 20
  • exhibition label: old backing board
  • label: old backing board: Owner: Maurice Wertheim / 27 / Artist: Rousseau / Title: Herbage, Bords de l'Oise / National Gallery of Art
[Salon des Independants?]sold; to M. Huc, Toulouse. [Paul Rosenberg, Paris(beginning 1912).] Alphonse Kann, Saint-Germain-en-Laye (by 1936-1947), sold; [to Paul Rosenberg, New York] sold; to Maurice Wertheim, New York, NY, (1949-1951) bequest; to Fogg Art Museum, 1951.

Regarding 1947 purchase, see Foreign Service invoice, October 23, 1947
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Bequest from the Collection of Maurice Wertheim, Class of 1906
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art
Publication History

Wilhelm Uhde, Henri Rousseau, E. Figuière (Paris, France, 1911), repr. as no. 12

Christian Zervos, Rousseau, Editions Cahiers d'art (Paris, France, 1927), repr. p. 68

Roch Grey, Henri Rousseau, Galerie Rene Drouin (Paris, France, 1943), repr. as pl. 71

Mario Buzzichini, Henri Rousseau (Milan, Italy, 1944), repr., pl. 17

La Peinture Française Depuis 1870: Collection Maurice Wertheim, exh. cat., Tom Taylor (Québec, Canada, 1949), p. 60, fig. 22, repr. p. 61

Roger Shattuck, The Banquet Years, Harcourt, Brace and Co. (New York, NY, 1958), repr. pl. 4 and p. 80

The Maurice Wertheim Catalogue: Modern French Art-- Monet to Picasso, exh. cat., North Carolina Museum of Art (Raleigh, NC, 1960), p. 48, repr. p. 49

Jean Bouret, Henri Rousseau, Idees et Calendes (Neuchâtel, Switzerland, 1961), no. 142

Dora Vallier, Henri Rousseau, Flammarion (Paris, France, 1961), no. 111

The Maurice Wertheim Collection: Modern French Art-- Manet to Picasso, exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (Houston, TX, 1962), p. 46, repr. p. 47, pl. 18

Dora Vallier, L'Opera Completa di Rousseau il Doganiere, Rizzoli (Milan, Italy, 1969), pp. 88, 111, 113

Sandra E. Leonard, Henri Rousseau and Max Weber, Richard L. Feigen & Co. Inc. (New York, NY, 1970), p. 21

The Maurice Wertheim Collection, exh. cat., Maine State Museum (Augusta, ME, 1972), repr. pl. 32

Yoshiaki Tono, Ruso, Kodansha Ltd. (Tokyo, Japan, 1981), repr. in color, no. 41

John O'Brian, Degas to Matisse: the Maurice Wertheim Collection, exh. cat., Harry N. Abrams, Inc./Fogg Art Museum (New York, NY and Cambridge, MA, 1988), no. 27, pp. 114-116, repr. in color p. 115; p. 158

Edgar Peters Bowron, European Paintings Before 1900 in the Fogg Art Museum: A Summary Catalogue including Paintings in the Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1990), p. 128; repr. as no. 404

The Maurice Wertheim Collection and Selected Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Paintings and Drawings in the Fogg Art Museum, exh. cat., Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (New York, NY, 1990), repr. in color no. 32, p. 95

[Unidentified article], Labyrinthe (July 1946 - August 1946), no. 21, repr., p. 5

[Unidentified article], Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, American Veterinary Medical Association (Schaumburg, IL, March 1, 1996), vol. 208, no. 5, repr. on cover page and p. 627

Elizabeth M. Rudy, "Researching the Wertheim Collection at the Harvard Art Museums", Collections: A Journal for Museum and Archives Professionals (Summer 2014), Vol. 10, No. 3, pp. 301-6, p. 303

Exhibition History

Subjects and Contexts

Google Art Project

Verification Level

3 - Good. Object is well described and information is vetted