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Record Image
Rousseau, Theodore-Etienne-Pierre (French, b.1812, d.1867)
A Hilly Landcape in Auvergne
Circa 1830
oil on canvas
285 x 403 mm sight size
1-1955
Collection of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. Purchased 1955 with funds from the Dunedin Public Art Gallery Society through the National Art Collections Fund, London.
Matching this work’s title, A Hilly Landscape in Auvergne, to the record of Rousseau’s extensive travels in the French provinces leads to the probable conclusion that it dates from his 1830 journey in that mountainous region of central France.
Its modest size, the brushwork (obvious rather than carefully smoothed) and the absence of a signature all suggest that he considered it to be a sketch, not intended for exhibition. Its subject is literal: this is not a Classical, intellectually composed landscape but an expression of interest in the picturesque. Nevertheless, Rousseau was trained within the academic conventions of his time, in which the oil sketch was a standard step in the development of a more ‘finished’ painting. Indeed, Rousseau would eventually establish his reputation and his career with his later, more elaborate landscapes.
A Hilly Landscape in Auvergne belongs to a period when the status of landscape painting in France was rising, and looks ahead to the development of the so-called Barbizon School, of which Rousseau became a leading member. This group’s images of the French countryside proposed a wholesome alternative to Paris, widely perceived to be a centre of disease, crime and vice.

on view in the exhibition

Hurahia ana kā Whetū : Unveiling the Stars
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