The Avenue in the Park at Saint Cloud
Oil on canvas
Inv. No. SG 404
46 × 38 cm
This work is an exception among the landscapes of the autodidact Rousseau. The forerunner of Surrealism leaves the riotous lushness of his tropical forests behind for the constructed and orderly character of a city park. In Rousseau’s work, reality does not have the character of a reproduction. He depicts the avenue bordered by tall lime trees on the south-western bank of the Seine as a repeating pattern of trees that tapers toward a tower-like monument in central perspective. The walkers in the park – a pictorial motif since Jean-Antoine Watteau – look like distanced staffage figures in an ultimately naïve composition with clear outlines and sharp contrasts.