The Eiffel Tower (c.1898) by Henri Rousseau

The Eiffel Tower - Henri Rousseau - c.1898

Artwork Information

TitleThe Eiffel Tower
ArtistHenri Rousseau
Dimensions77.2 x 52.4 cm
Art MovementNaïve Art (Primitivism)
Current LocationMuseum of Fine Arts Houston (MFAH), Houston, TX, US

About The Eiffel Tower

“The Eiffel Tower” is a painting by Henri Rousseau, created around 1898 using oil on canvas. The artwork, which measures 77.2 by 52.4 centimeters, is a quintessential example of the Naïve Art movement, also known as Primitivism. This cityscape is part of the collection at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston (MFAH) located in Houston, Texas, United States.

The artwork presents a tranquil evening scene with the iconic Eiffel Tower looming in the distance. The gentle lighting suggests dusk or dawn, as the sky is imbued with soft shades of pink and orange, melting into a serene blue. The Seine River, in the foreground, reflects these hues, interspersed with darker tones that hint at the water’s depth. A boat is visible on the river, adding a human element to the otherwise still landscape.

Rousseau’s use of perspective draws the viewer’s eye towards the center of the painting where the Eiffel Tower stands. The tower is depicted with a degree of precision that contrasts with the more stylized trees and buildings. The riverbanks are adorned with figures that are probably Parisians enjoying the riverside, and the lamplights suggest the city’s quiet awakening or its gentle slide into the night. The inclusion of industrial smokestacks on the right adds a modern element to the composition, acknowledging the industrial era Paris was experiencing at the time.

Henri Rousseau’s naive style is evident through the simplified forms, vivid colors, and dreamlike quality of the artwork, which are characteristic of his self-taught approach to painting. Despite having little formal training, Rousseau’s work is celebrated for its unique perspective and has had a lasting impact on the development of modern art.

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