The Edge of the Woods at Monts-Girard, Fontainebleau Forest

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

Date: 1852–54

Medium: Oil on wood

Dimensions: 31 1/2 x 48 in. (80 x 121.9 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Collection, Wolfe Fund, 1896

Accession Number: 96.27


As related by Rousseau’s friend and biographer Alfred Sensier, this painting represents part of the woods at Fontainebleau where the trees—some hundreds of years old—were vulnerable to harvest, a practice the artist bitterly opposed. Although the composition reflects seventeenth-century Dutch prototypes, its contemporary resonance is elucidated by the poignant contrast between the saplings in the recently cleared opening at the left and the aged specimens at the right. After working on the panel for two years Rousseau dated it, a rare gesture signifying that he considered it particularly successful. The painting was included in Rousseau’s triumphant display at Salon of 1855.