Henri Rousseau’s c. 1898 painting, “The Eiffel Tower,” is an iconic depiction of pre-war Paris. The oil on canvas artwork features a self-portrait of Rousseau wearing his signature artist’s beret and suit, standing before a landscape that includes the Eiffel Tower and a ship with world flags. This painting is part of the collection at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas.
Rousseau, a French post-impressionist painter known for his lush jungle scenes, is considered the archetype of the modern naive artist. Despite never leaving France, he was known for filling his paintings with oversized plants and wild animals. In “The Eiffel Tower,” he depicted himself as an integral part of Parisian life while including classic motifs such as branded hoardings and the Big Wheel.
This painting is not only a representation of Paris in 1898 but also showcases Rousseau’s unique artistic style unlike any other primitive painter. His autobiographical details featured in another artwork titled “Myself” reveal that this type of scenery inspired him deeply throughout his career. Overall, Rousseau’s “The Eiffel Tower” has become an essential piece in art history that captures both the landscapes and autobiographical details unique to this French post-impressionist painter’s style.