Henri Rouart, a friend of Edgar Degas, attended the Lycée Louis le Grand with him. He became an engineer and established a notable factory for metal parts in Montluçon, which brought him international acclaim. Degas painted a portrait of Rouart in front of his factory in 1875.
The painting is significant for its portrayal of modernization and progress after the war of 1870. It prominently features railroad tracks, symbolizing the advances made in transportation during this period. Rouart is shown in front of his factory, wearing a suit and hat and holding a cane. He is surrounded by smokestacks and cranes, further emphasizing the industrial nature of the scene.
The painting is now part of the Carnegie Museum of Art’s collection in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It demonstrates Degas’ interest in industrialization and modernity as well as his ability to capture the essence of his subjects. Through this painting, we gain insights into the life and work of Henri Rouart, as well as the social and economic changes of the time.