Network Books


Recollections of Henri Rousseau

Recollections of Henri Rousseau


Paperback – 145 x 115 mm – 96 pages

The first biography of Rousseau, written by the dealer and friend who gave him his first one-man show; one of the key documents in the history of 20th-century art and a touching and intimate portrait of one of the great originals of Western art.

Henri Rousseau (1844-1910), known as Le Douanier (the Customs Officer) after his day job, was the first outsider or naïve artist in the history of Western art to be recognised at his true worth. His astonishing paintings, particularly of jungles, have now entered popular consciousness to such an extent that it is difficult now to imagine how strongly they were resisted at the time. 

Much of the credit for this transformation is due to the author of these Recollections, the dealer and historian Wilhelm Uhde. It was Uhde who put on the first exhibition of Rousseau’s work, and the catalogue he wrote for the occasion is the basis of the Recollections. In it he painted the picture of a man of naïveté, humour, gentleness and total commitment to an art of whose importance he was utterly convinced. 

A great deal of what we know about Rousseau comes from these pages, and Uhde himself returned again and again to his text. The version printed here is the final revision, published after the war, and in a translation overseen by Uhde himself. New pictures have been added to this new edition.  

An introduction by Nancy Ireson, one of the curators for the Jungles of Paris exhibition at Tate Modern, sets the Recollections in context, with an overview of Rousseau’s career, the ebb and flow of his reputation, and the part that this fascinating, polemical and elegiac text had to play in the creation of a new kind of art. 

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