Old Master Paintings, Drawings, and British Portraits


PHILIPPE ROUSSEAU (Paris 1816 – Acquigny 1887)

Chacun pour soi

signed and dated in the lower left Ph. Rousseau 1864

oil on canvas

38 1/8 x 51 1/8 inches          (97 x 130.5 cm.)


Galerie Talabardon et Gautier, Paris

Private collection, Paris



Paris, Salon, 1865, no. 1879

Paris, Exposition Universelle, 1867, no. 542

Greenwich, Connecticut, Bruce Museum, Best in Show, The Dog in Art from the Renaissance to Today, May 13 – August 27, 2006 and traveling to The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, October 1, 2006 – January 1, 2007



N.V., “Exposition des Beaux-Arts” in Le Monde Illustré, volume XVII, Paris, July – December 1865, p. 4, reproduced “Salon de 1865” in Gazette des Beaux-Arts, volume 19, Paris, 1865, pp. 27 – 28, reproduced

Louis Auvray, “Salon de 1865” in Revue Artistique et Littéraire, Aux Bureaux de la Revue, Paris, 1865, p. 54

Felix Johyer, “M. Rousseau” in Étude sur les Beaux-Arts Salon de 1865, E. Dentu, Editeur, Paris, 1865, p. 200

Pigalle, L’autographe au Salon de 1865 et dans les ateliers, Bureaux du Figaro et de l’autographe, Paris, 1865, p. 16, reproduced by a drawing of the painting by the artist dated 19, Mars 1865

Exposition Universelle de 1867 a Paris Catalogue Général - Oeuvres D’Art, La Commission Impériale, E. Dentu, Paris, 1867, p. 41, no. 542

“Les Beaux-Arts a L’Exposition Universelle France” in Musée des Familles, Lectures du Soir, Bureau de l’Aministration, Paris, 1867-1868, p. 128, reproduced

T. Thorné, “Salon de 1865”, in Salons de W. Bürger 1861 à 1868, Libraire de Ve Jules Renouard, Paris, 1870, p. 219

Jules Clarette, “M. Vollon et M. PH. Rousseau” in Peintres et Sculpteurs Contemporains, Charpentier et Cie, Paris, 1874, p. 196 (listed under principal works)

Ernest Glaeser, “Philippe Rousseau” in Biographie Nationale des Contemporains, Glaeser & Cie, Editeurs, Paris, 1878, p. 678

Adolphe Bitard, “Philippe Rousseau” in Dictionnaire Général de Biographie Contemporains Français et Étrangère, Maurice Dreyfous, Éditeur, Paris, 1878, p. 1041

Emile Bellier de la Chavignerie & Louis Auvray, “Philippe Rousseau” in Dictionnaire Général des Artistes de L’Ecole Français, volume II, Libraire Renouard, Paris, 1885, p. 431

A. Paul Baudry, “Lettres Inédites de Schnetz” in Reunion des Sociétés des Beaux-Arts des Departments en 1886, Ministère de l’Instruction Publique des Beaux-Arts et des Cultes, Paris, 1886, pp. 441-442, (listed under remarkable works from the Salon of 1865)

Paul Eudel, “Atelier de Philippe Rousseau” in L’Hotel Drouot et La Curiosite en 1884-1885, G. Charpentier et Cie, Editeurs, 1886, p. 305, (listed under principal works)

John Denison Champlin, Jr. & Charles C. Perkins, eds., “Philippe Rousseau” in Cyclopedia of Painters and Paintings, volume IV, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1887, p. 78

Gustave Vapereau, “Philippe Rousseau” in Dictionnaire Universel des Contemporains, volume II, Libraire Hachette et Cie, Paris, 1893, p. 1,587

Ronald de Leeuw, Philippe Rousseau 1816 – 1887, exhibition catalogue Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, Waanders Uitgevers, Zwolle, 1993, p. 59, fig. 60

Elisabeth Hardouin-Fugier & Etienne Grafe, Le Peintre et L’Animal en France au XIX Siecle, Les Editions de L’Amateur, 2001, p. 28, fig. 19, illustrated in color

Robert Rosenblum, “From the Royal Hunt to the Taxidermist: A Dog’s History of Modern Art,” in Best in Show, Yale University Press, New Haven & London, 2006, pp. 70-71, 147, fig. 56, illustrated in color

Tamsin Pickeral, The Dog: 5000 Years of the Dog in Art, Merrell Publishers


Philippe Rousseau was regarded as one of the most popular artists of his day.[1] A painter of animals and still lifes, he is best known for combining both in large formats with anecdotal elements and by doing so carved out a unique niche for himself in nineteenth century French painting. It was a period when animal imagery proved vastly popular, inspiring not only painters but sculptors, poets and musicians alike.[2] He began his studies at the Ecole des Beaux Arts under the tutelage of Antoine-Jean Baron Gros and Victor Bertin. He first exhibited at the Salon in 1834 and was awarded medals in 1845, 1848, 1855 and 1878. In 1852 he was admitted into the Légion d’Honneur and in 1870 made an officer. In 1850 Rousseau was awarded his first state commission whose parameters were a work featuring a dog and cats. Titled Un Importun (An Intruder), which depicted a cat protecting her kittens from a dog, it was well received and is now in the collection of the Musée d’Orsay, Paris. More state commissions followed and Rousseau’s prices began to soar to the point where in 1867 he turned down an order from the state for monetary reasons. His clientele list was stellar and he built his reputation on individuals close to the Imperial Court. In 1859 he produced seven works after the Fables of Jean de La Fontaine for a dining room in the Hôtel d’Albe, the remarkable house Empress Eugénie built for her sister the Duchess of Alva. Princess Mathilde Bonaparte, the cousin of Emperor Napoleon III, owned two works by Rousseau and also ordered her dining room to be decorated by the artist. In Jean de la Rochenoire’s review of the Exposition Universelle of 1855 he called Rousseau “le peintre de Monsieur Rothschild”, a reference to the work done for both James Baron de Rothschild and Charlotte Baroness Nathanaël de Rothschild. Other luminary clients included the writer Alexandre Dumas, the founder Ferdinand Barbedienne and the actress Madame Arnoult-Plessy.[3]

In 1847 for the Haagse Tentoonstelling van Levende Meesters Rousseau introduced a new theme to his repertoire – A Mother Hen with her Chicks – the same theme subsequently used in Basse-Cour winner of a First-class medal in the Salon of 1848. From then on the theme of a mother and her brood became a mainstay in Rousseau’s output employing a variety of animals that were viewed in farmyards or kitchen interiors. The impetus behind such scenes stemmed from the incorporation of subjects commonly found in seventeenth century Dutch paintings combined with the rediscovery in 1846 of Jean-Baptiste Chardin’s still lifes (due to the publication of the first scholarly book devoted to the artist by Pierre Hédouin) that embraced humble objects.[4]

Chacun Pour Soi draws on both traditions. Set in a kitchen featuring the aftermath of a meal, a dog searches for scraps among a basket of dirty dishes while nursing two pups. Two others are engaged in a tussle beneath a wooden table surrounded by a basket of dirty pots, discarded bones, vegetable peels, used utensils and an overturned pot. All that remains of the hearth’s fire are dying embers. Chaos has replaced order and it is indeed as the title states “everyone for himself”. Executed as a show-piece for the Salon of 1865 it was then re-exhibited at the Exposition Universelle of 1867 (the greatest up to this time of all international shows in size and scope).

Contemporary art-critics noted its portrayal as very realistic, “le dernier mot de la realite”[5] and exceedingly witty.[6] Literature of the period records it as one of Rousseau’s most important works and out of the thousands of art works exhibited at the 1865 Salon and the Exposition Universelle of 1867 it was continually mentioned and widely reproduced as one of the highlights. In 2006 it was part of the museum exhibition Best in Show which featured exceptional images of dogs in Western art from the Renaissance to the present. During his lifetime Rousseau was called “the Chardin of his age”.[7] Reflected in this statement is a mutual talent for eliciting from humble subject matter poetic imagery through extraordinary technical proficiency.

The Dutch in particular have always championed Philippe Rousseau’s art and all of the works now in museums in Holland were purchased in the twentieth century.[8] They include the Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk Museum and Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam; Stedelijk Museum, Gouda; Groningen Museum, Groningen; Haags Gemeentemuseum and Museum Mesdag in The Hague; Rijksmuseum Kröller-Muller, Otterlo; Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam; and the Centraal Museum, Utrecht. In 1993 as part of their series on 19th - Century Masters the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam mounted an exhibition dedicated solely to the work of Philippe Rousseau, (see Ronald de Leeuw, op. cit.). Other outstanding collections in which Rousseau’s works can be found include the museums of Beauvais; Cleveland; Dresden; National Gallery, London; Louviers; Lyon; Nantes; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Louvre and Musée d’Orsay, Paris; Philadelphia; Reims; Rouen; Hermitage, Saint Petersburg; Warsaw and Salt Lake City, Utah among others.



[1] Elizabeth Hardouin-Fugier & Etienne Grafe, op.cit., p. 347.

[2] Ronald de Leeuw, op. cit., pp. 8, 20.

[3] Biographical information taken from Ernest Glaeser, op.cit., p. 678; Emile Bellier de la Chavignerie & Louis

Auvray, op.cit., p. 431; John Denison Champlin, Jr. & Charles C. Perkins, op. cit., p. 78; and Ronald de Leeuw, op.

cit., pp. 13, 23-24, 27, 30.

[4] Ronald de Leeuw, op. cit., pp. 11, 35.

[5] Felix Johyer, op. cit., p. 200.

[6] Louis Auvray, op. cit., p. 54.

[7] Ronald de Leeuw, op. cit., p. 46.

[8] Ibid, p. 62.

Lawrence Steigrad Fine Arts

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