Henri Rouart (1833-1912)
Rouart was one of the main figures within the impressionist art-movement:
Rouart was co-founder of the ‘Société Anonyme…‘ in 1873, Walther even cals him one of the most important members (R3,p138). He joined in 7 of the 8 ‘impressionist’ expositions, which is more often than Monet, Renoir and Sisley. In total he showed 103 works. Only Pissarro (176), Monet (121) and Degas (119) showed more works (see). Probably by his influence Brandon and Levert (his teachers) took part in the first ‘impressionist’ exposition of 1874 (R3,p401) and Levert continued to do so in 1876, 1877 and 1880. Rouart was active organizing the second ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1876 and also was involved in the preparations of the seventh in 1882 and the eight exposition in 1886. You can say that Rouart was one of the most important artists within the impressionist art-movement (see). But how come than that he is so unknown?
That he was important is confirmed by an article in ‘Le Gaulois’ dated 1880/01/24 in which on a satirical way the death of Monet is pronounced (actually his leaving the ‘impressionist’ expositions for the Salon). Rouart is mentioned as one of the 8 mourners (in total their were 19 partakers at the 1880 exposition and thus more mourners) (R22,p155). In the same journal of the 2th of April Rouart is mentioned with only 3 other partakers (R22,p159).
Rouart exhibited at the Salon:
Rouart exhibited in 1868, 69, 70 and 72 at the Salon. In 1873 he was rejected and exhibited at the Salon des Refusés. After that he joined the ‘impressionist’ expositions and didn’t submit anymore to the Salon. This affirms my statement that the Salon des Refusés of 1873 is much more important for the impressionist art-movement, than the one of 1863 who is mostly mentioned. (For an account see.)
Rouart at the ‘impressionist’ expositions:
- At the 1st ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1874 Rouart exhibited 11 works.
- At the 2nd ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1876 Rouart exhibited 10 works.
- At the 3rd ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1877 Rouart exhibited 5 works.
- At the 4th ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1879 Rouart exhibited 23 works, including 14 drawings.
- At the 5th ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1880 Rouart exhibited 12 works, including 8 watercolours.
- At the 6th ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1881 Rouart exhibited 15 works.
- At the 8th ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1886 Rouart exhibited 27 works, including 13 watercolours.
- For an account see. For his paintings see. For an overview of his own collection and the works that he did loan to the expositions see.
- (For explanation of the subscriptions of the pictures see. For the general references (=R) see. For the general references to internet pages (=iR) see. For the additional references (=aR) see at the bottom of this page.)
What is known about Rouart?
As I said there is not much known about Rouart. Moffett (R2) doesn’t give a source mainly on Rouart and only renders one picture (1880-182). He writes: ‘Little is known about the chronology and stylistic development of Rouart’s work.’ (R2,p332). This is the only time Moffett renders two contemporary comments of art-critics. Véron (1880) says Rouart doesn’t belong to the impressionist circles, that he would fit at the Salon and calls him mediocre. This mediocrity is also the core of the critic of Silvestre (1880/05/01). Joining 7 times with the ‘impressionist’ expositions and showing in total 103 works I assume he is mentioned much more often. And probably also when he exhibited at the Salon. What do all these other comments say?
Many sources don’t mention Rouart at all (R6; R19; R18). Denvier (R5) mentions him several times, but mostly as partaker of the ‘impressionist’ expositions and as friend of Degas. Spiess (R16) doesn’t render one picture of Rouart. Wildenstein mentions him in Monet’s biography 4 times (R22). Roe mentions him 11 times, but always as a side figure (R4). Walther mentions him only 4 times apart from his lexicon (R3,p138, 231, 339, 372).
Conclusion sources about Impressionism don’t give much information about Rouart. Still there are several sources to be consulted. Walther and Denvier mention there was a fast correspondence between Degas and Rouart (R3,p693; R5). What information can we get about Rouart from this correspondence? The son of Henri, Ernest Rouart, married 1900/05/31 with Julie Manet, the daughter of Berthe Morisot and Eugène Manet (R3,p693; R5,p249+261; aR6). What can we learn from the diary of Julie Manet about Rouart (R5,p261)? I referred above already to the contemporary comments of art-critics. Walther mentions correctly that this talented amateur (landscape) painter, is insignificantly studied (R3,p138).
Still, in recent years there have been some publications on Rouart in French (aR3). And also there were recent exhibitions. In 2012 the Marmottan in Paris had an exhibition of works of Henri Rouart (aR6; aR21; aR23). The french catalogue by Jean-Dominque Rey is called: ‘Henri Rouart; l’oeuvre peinte’, see. In 2014/15 the MBA Nancy organized the exhibition ‘Les Rouarts; de l’impressionnisme au réalisme magique’ (aR22) with 33 works of Henri Rouart, together with works of his son Ernest (1874-1942) and his grandson Augustin (1907-1997). Dominique Bona made the catalogue. The same (aR25) exhibition was later on in 2015 to be seen in Yerres under the name ‘Les Rouarts à Yerres’ (aR24).
Where did Rouart live?
Rouart was born in Paris in 1833/10/02 (R3,p693; aR3) at 114, rue Saint Honoré (aR6) and died also in Paris 1912/01/02 (aR3; aR6; aR7; Denvier, probably incorrect, mentions he died 1912/04/09, R5,p234 ). Walther mentions he lived also in La-Queue-en-Brie (R3,p693), this is about 20km south-east of paris (see). Denvier mentions Degas stayed with the Rouart family in La-Queue-en-Brie in 1905 (R5,p230), Roe mentions diner invitations to Degas around 1882 (R4,p237). From 1891-1912 he was mayor of La-Queue-en-Brie (aR3; aR7). His father bought a house here in 1851/02 (aR6) or around 1840 (aR8). Moffett mentions the Rouart family had a property in Melun (R2,p332). Other sources mention it belonged to his parents-in-law (aR6) on the Quai Fournaux (now Quai Lallia) in Mée-sur-Seine, a property that is now destroyed (aR8). In 1869 he bought his own house in 34, Rue de Lisbonne, Paris (aR6). In 1872 and 1873 this adres is mentioned in the Salon database. But in 1868, 69 and 70 149, Rue Oberkampf is given as his adres (aR1).
Rouart’s family life:
Rouart married in 1861 with Hélène Jacob-Desmalter. They had 6 children: Lucie (1865-68), Hélène (1868), Alexis (1869), Eugène (1872), Ernest (1875), Louis (1878). In 1875 his father died, in 1886 his wife, in 1889 his mother (aR6).
Where did Rouart travel and paint?
Rouart often travelled in France but also to Egypt (1869), Amsterdam (1875), Venise (18?+1879), Italy (1861+1883). Rouart exhibited in 1880 8 and in 1886 11 watercolours made in Venise. In 1879 he showed 6 works made in the neighbourhood of Clermont-Ferrand and 2 from Egypt. In 1880 6 from the French Riviera. Throughout the years he showed 15 works made in Brittany, 12 made along the Pyrenees and 7 made in Melun. He didn’t show works made in Paris (if he made them) and none made in Queue-en-Brie (see).
Rouart was an engineer:
Rouart had followed the ‘École polytechnique’ from 1853 (aR3; aR6; aR8; aR9). He became an engineer, mechanic designer and industrialist introducing coolers in France (R5,p12+264; aR9) and pneumatic cylinders (aR4; aR9). His father had a fabric making military uniforms (aR3; aR9). Denvier writes Henri himself made goods for the army (R5,p131). 1860 he started the ‘Société Industrielle Mignon & Rouart’ (aR8). Roe calls him a ‘prosperous new factory owner’ (R4,p99).
Rouart as a painter:
Rouart started drawing in 1847 and painting in 1860 (aR6). He was a pupil of Levert, Véron, Brandon (aR1; R16,p297). Corot and Millet are also called as his teachers / advisers (R3,p693; R16,p297; R45,p9).
After his death Durand-Ruel exhibited about 50 of his works, which was his first solo exhibition (aR6). And in December his large art-collection was auctioned (see below).
When we look at the 111 titles of the works he exhibited at the Salon and the ‘impressionist’ expositions (see), 86 has a (more vague or precise) indication of the location where Rouart painted. He exhibited just 1 portrait, 1 interieur and no still life (as far as the scenes can be identified be the title alone). In this sense Rouart seems to be a real landscape painter (including city views and views of monuments like castles). Knowing he is primary an industrialist it looks as if Rouart is an amateur painter, painting nice views during his holidays and weekends (compare R3,p138). But when we look at the pictures that are (probably) made by Rouart (see) we see beside the landscapes and city views, many portraits, nudes and some still lives. In his style of painting there also is a variety. In many pictures the influence of sunlight is clear, some pictures are very colourful, black mostly is absent. In this sense he paints in an impressionist painting style (see). Though his brushstroke can be quite lively, he never uses a consequent juxtaposed brushstroke. On the other hand in many of his portraits there is an emphasize on line and in other pictures he uses a lot of browns. This all is not very impressionistic. In some pictures Rouart uses thin paint, which makes the canvas visibel (see 1.3, 2.3, 3.5). As Rouart did not sign many pictures, identification is hard. Dating is even harder, because he didn’t date most of his paintings. I hope in the years to come there will appear more and more pictures of Rouart. And I hope all these pictures will receive a proper research. Rouart, being one of the main figures within the impressionist art-movement, deserves this.
Rouart was a close friend of Degas and also was connected to other painters:
Already in school (Lycée Louis-le-Grand, 1847 onwards; R4,p34; aR3; aR6; aR8) Henri Rouart, his brother Alexis and Degas were friends (R3,p693). They would stay friends during their whole life and there is a fast correspondence between them (R3,p693; R5,p264). Denvir renders two letters wherein the contacts between Degas and Rouart are mentioned (R5,p208,224). Degas once said that the Rouart family was the only family he had in France (R5,p131). Degas painted him and his family during the years several times (R5,p131+230/1). During the Franco-Prussian war Degas served under Rouart as his commander (R5,p64; R4,p78). Denvir calls Rouart a protégé of Degas (R5,p115+125), Roe as a ‘regular buyer’ (R4,p150). (Still in the 1912 catalogue of his collection there are only 13 works of Degas mentioned; aR10).
Rouart and Degas also were befriended with Charles Tillot who joined 6 of the 8 ‘impressionist’ expositions (R3,p693, 700). From 1864-67 Rouart often painted with Tillot, Rousseau, Millet and Corot in Barbizon (aR6; R16,p297). In 1866 he paints with Levert in Bretagne (aR6). In 1875 he paints with Cals in Honfleur (aR6). In 1889 Rouart generously supports Monet’s initiative to buy ‘The Olympia’ of Manet to be given to the Louvre (R22,p259; R4,p208). 1893 on wards he regularly visits Madame Brandon in the Pyrenees (aR6).
Rouart was a collector of art:
Rouart also was a collector of art. By buying their works he also supported his impressionist friends. Wildenstein mentions him as one of the buyers at the Drouot auction in 1875 (R22,p117), so does Roe (R4,p141). After his death (1912/01/02) his art-collection was auctioned the 9-11th of December (R5,p235). In the catalogue were 576 works mentioned and described made by at least 110 artists. Most of them were portraits and landscapes. 284 of them were oil paintings and 297 were drawings, watercolours, etc. Only 70 of them were of the artists that joined the ‘impressionist’ expositions. The largest collections were of Delacroix, Millet, Corot and Daumier. In the catalogue there also are 100 reproductions, 28 were of his impressionist friends. There were at least 8 works exhibited that were not mentioned in the catalogue (=hc), 2 of them by Rouart himself who is not mentioned as artist in the catalogue at all.
Spies writes he had opened his own gallery showing his collection (R16,p297), this was after 1902 (aR6). The 1912 auction was held in his ‘hôtel’ in the Rue de Lisbonne in Paris (R45,p3). For more info about Rouart as a collector see. For the full catalogue with introduction and reproductions see aR10.
Additional references (=aR):
- Base Salons (Rouart)
- www.the-athenaeum.org / Rouart (only 5 works)
- fr.Wikipedia.org / Rouart (3 works)
- nl.Wikipedia.org / Rouart
- en.Wikipedia.org / Rouart (almost no information)
- journaldespeintres (Duvaleix; on the 2012 exposition in Marmottan; showing 5 works; with chronology)
- La-Queue-en-Brie (page on the former inhabitant and mayor)
- www.amismusee-melun.com (
- journals.openedition.org (
- archive.org / Arséne Alexandre: La collection Henri Rouart; Goupi & Co, Paris, 1912 (the full catalogue of the auction + introduction + reproductions)
- invaluable.co.uk ( 12 items)
- Christies.com (mostly from the collection of Rouart)
- artnet.com (26 works)
- askart.com (3 works)
- liveauctioneers.com (1 pastel)
- mutualart.com (4 works; large pictures)
- lot-art.com (3 works)
- Blouin (many works)
- saleroom.com (1 work)
- Google-images (several works, but also of his collection and other artists; just partly reliable; links to auction sites etc.)
- spectacles (12 press photos from the Marmottan exhibition 2012)
- culturebox (about expo 2014/15 in MBA Nancy and in Yerres; with two videos)
- YouTube1 (TV interview about the Marmottan exhibition 2012)
- propriete Caillebotte (info exhibition 2015)
- blog Dan Dylan (info and works from the Yerres = MBA Nancy exhibition 2015; makes no distinction between the Rouarts)
- ebay (1 work with zoom)
- florilèges (article in french with 4 works of Rouart)
- propriete Caillebotte 2 (article + works of the 2015 exhibition)
- YouTube 2 (TV interview in french about the Nancy exhibition)