Henri Rousseau

Quai d'Ivry by Henri Rousseau

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Rolled Canvas
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Rousseau was fascinated by modern mechanical civilization. The airship, the airplane, the balloon, the Eiffel Tower: such icons of modernity often appear in his paintings. In this example, the airship floating in the sky to the upper right is probably La Patrie, the first airship ordered by the French army, which flew across the Paris skies in 1901. Here it is shown with the stabilizers that were added to it in 1907, about when this painting was created. The setting of this painting, the Quai d'Ivry, was an industrial area upriver on the Seine, in the outskirts of Paris. A large smokestack appears near the right-hand edge of the painting. The people, dressed in their finest, with matching canes and umbrellas, strolling on the riverbank are of unequal sizes, and the boundary between river and riverbank is merely the intersection of two color planes. These technical flaws do not, however, mar Rousseau's poetic associations.