Rendez-vous dans la forêt (1889)

Rousseau, Henri (1844-1910)

Rendez-vous dans la forêt (Rendezvous in the Forest)
Oil on canvas, 92 x 73 cm
National Gallery of ArtWashington

Beyond a dense screen of stylized, dark brown tree trunks, bending branches, and sage and moss-green leaves, a man and woman ride side-by-side on horseback and embrace in this vertical landscape painting. Both people have pale skin. Closest to us, two spindly trees almost reach the top edge of the canvas, their stylized leaves silhouetted against the sky. Trees and bushes with laurel and dark green leaves create a band across the foreground. Near the bottom center of the composition, the woman is closer to us but she turns her face to touch noses with the man riding next to her. Long, straight blond hair flows to her waist. She has pronounced, dark eyes under heavy brows, and a large nose. She wears a burgundy-red jacket with horizontal, gold stripes across the chest. A white shirt beneath shows through where the jacket gapes open at the chest and at her cuffs. She holds the reins of her black horse in her left hand. The man turns his torso toward the woman and wraps his left arm, to our right, around the woman’s shoulders. He looks at her with black eyes under dark brows. He has a black, handlebar mustache and white hair. He wears a black and gold three-corner hat and a navy-blue jacket with gold braid in front and around the neck. His horse is brown with a silvery-white mane. Behind the people, the forest comes about two-thirds of the way up the composition. One tan-brown cloud hangs in the sky that lightens from seafoam green along the top edge to oyster white along the horizon. The artist signed the painting in the lower right: “Henri Rousseau.” (NGA)