Henri Le Douanier Rousseau

1844-1910

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Value, estimation and price of the artist Le Douanier Rousseau

Price of a painting: 3,000 – 2 600,000 €.

Estimate of a drawing: 3,000 – 140,000 €.

Estimation of a print: 20 – 3,600 €.

Price of a sculpture: 18,500 – 130,000 €.

If you would like to have a work of art by Le Douanier Rousseau appraised, our experts will take care of everything.

From customs officer to painter

Henri Rousseau was a French painter born on 21 May 1844 in Laval who died on 2 September 1910 in Paris. He was considered to be the leader of Naive art (art naïf). He studied law before leaving for Paris where he held a customs post, which earned him the title of Douanier Rousseau.

Henri Rousseau is a self-taught artist who produced many paintings depicting the jungle even though he never left France. His work is considered as a precursor which inspired many artists, especially the Surrealists. He held a copyist card from the Louvre Museum where he was able to become familiar with masterpieces. It was only in 1886 that he exhibited at the Salon des indépendants, due to the absence of an entry jury. Though it was not until 1891 that he received positive reviews with his jungle painting Surprise!

He was increasingly esteemed by avant-garde painters and made connections with Matisse, Delauney, Apollinaire and Picasso.

Acknowledgement of his talent

To paint his jungles and their animals, Henri Rousseau was inspired by the Jardin d’Acclimatation and the Jardin des Plantes. His characters are immobile and often inexpressive, and even if his portraits are mostly nameless, the painter left a few clues to identify his wives or his friends.

Guillaume Apollinaire said, during the Autumn Show where Le Douanier Rousseau presented The Dream, “This year, nobody laughs, everybody is unanimous – they admire”.

In 1910, Henri Rousseau sold paintings for more than 1,000 francs and was able to buy his own studio in Paris. But he died a year later from gangrene in his leg. With no money, he was buried in a common grave, but his friends chipped in and bought him a plot in 1912. In 1947, his remains were moved to his hometown Laval, where Apollinaire wrote his epitaph in chalk. Henri Rousseau painted over 250 canvases which were used as payment throughout his life.

Two lions on the lookout in the jungle was sold in 2007 for €2.6 million to a private buyer.

Recognising Le Douanier Rousseau’s signature

Like many artists, Le Douanier Rousseau did not sign all of his works. However, you will find below an example of the signatures to give you an idea. Variations of these signatures do exist, do not hesitate to contact one of our experts to formally authenticate a signature.

expertise le douanier rousseau

Appraising and selling a Le Douanier Rousseau’s artwork

If you own a Le Douanier Rousseau’s artwork, use our online form for a free appraisal.

You will then be contacted by a member of our team of experts and auctioneers to give you an independent opinion of the market price. Should you wish to sell your painting or any other artwork, our specialists will also advise you on the various options available for selling at the best price.

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