The Forest in Winter at Sunset

Artist: Théodore Rousseau (French, Paris 1812–1867 Barbizon)

Date: ca. 1846–67

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 64 x 102 3/8 in. (162.6 x 260 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Gift of P. A. B. Widener, 1911

Accession Number: 11.4


Unrivaled for its scale and ambition, this monumental forest scene was begun early in Rousseau's career and remained unfinished at the time of his death, despite the urging of Millet and other artist friends to complete and exhibit it. By one account, Rousseau’s intention was to recreate the effect of a sunset he had seen in Bas-Bréau, a section of Fontainebleau forest, in December 1845. The tangled web of trees, denuded of foliage and suffused with deep color, conveys a sense of awe before nature that is amplified by the presence of two stooped peasants at the center.