Landscape with Cow (c.1886) by Henri Rousseau

Landscape with Cow - Henri Rousseau - c.1886

Artwork Information

TitleLandscape with Cow
ArtistHenri Rousseau
Art MovementNaïve Art (Primitivism)

About Landscape with Cow

“Landscape with Cow” is a genre painting by Henri Rousseau, believed to have been created around 1886. Henri Rousseau was an artist who is often associated with the Naïve Art movement, sometimes referred to as Primitivism, a characterization owing to the self-taught artist’s raw and instinctive approach. This movement is distinguished by a simplistic and often childlike perspective on the portrayal of subjects, departing from the techniques and rules that dominated the academic art world at the time.

The artwork presents a bucolic scene, featuring a vast, flat landscape that recedes into a layered background of hills and mountains under a wide sky. Prominently in the foreground, there is a large brown cow with a white pattern on its forehead and belly, looking slightly towards the viewer. The cow is tethered with a rope to a female figure clothed in traditional rural attire, including a long dress, apron, and a hat that shades her face, suggesting agricultural labor and a connection to the pastoral setting.

To the right of the central cow, a smaller brown cow is grazing, its head lowered towards the ground, possibly indicating a calf or a cow of a different breed. The vegetation is shown with a degree of detail, with broad, green leafy plants—possibly cabbage or lettuce—creating a patterned foreground. The background depicts simple rural structures with a church spire visible, implying the proximity of a village. Dominating the right middle ground is a tall, narrow, and densely leaved tree that stands out against the serene sky. The representation of the vegetation and buildings is static, with a noticeable lack of shadow and depth, a hallmark of Rousseau’s distinctive painting style.

Despite his lack of formal training, Rousseau’s work is characterized by its directness and purity, elements that can be evidently observed in “Landscape with Cow.” There is an intriguing juxtaposition of the ordinary and the idyllic within the artwork, showcasing Rousseau’s unique perspective on the natural world and his place within the artistic landscape of his time.

Other Artwork from Henri Rousseau

More Naïve Art (Primitivism) Artwork

Scroll to Top