About This Artwork

Henri Rousseau
French, 1844–1910

The Waterfall, 1910

Oil on canvas
45 3/4 x 59 1/8 in. (116.2 x 150.2 cm)
Signed, l.r.: "Henri Rousseau, 1910"

Helen Birch Bartlett Memorial Collection, 1926.262

Henri Rousseau was a self-taught artist who worked as a customs agent on the outskirts of Paris. His visionary paintings—in particular, those on the theme of the jungle—captivated the art world with their representations of lush plant and animal life painted with incredible detail and precision. Rousseau made The Waterfall in the last year of his life, and it may have been left unfinished: a few leaves on the branches of the tree in the left foreground lack some of the artist's characteristic overlapping layers of color. Though Rousseau depicted exotic, distant locales, he never set foot outside France. His imaginary scenes were informed by visits to the Paris zoo and botanical gardens, and images from postcards, photographs, and illustrated journals.

— Permanent collection label

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

New York, Museum of Modern Art, American Sources of Modern Art, March 10–31, 1933, hors cat.

Chicago, Art Institute, A Century of Progress: Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture Lent from American Collections, June 1–November 1, 1933, p. 52, cat. 369.

Chicago, Art Institute, A Century of Progress: Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture, June 1–November 1, 1934, p. 49, cat. 322.

Pittsburgh, Carnegie Institute, A Survey of French Painting, April 2–May 14, 1936, n. p., cat. 40.

Chicago, Art Institute, Henri Rousseau, January 22–February 23, 1942, pp. 64–5 and 69 (ill.); traveled to New York, Museum of Modern Art, March 17–May 3, 1942.

Venice, XXV Biennale di Venezia, June–October 1950, p. 235, cat. 20.

London, Tate Modern, Henri Rousseau: Jungles in Paris, November 3, 2005–February 5, 2006, pp. 37, 41, 42, fig. 32, 45, 111, 116, and 223, cat. 23; traveled to Paris, Grand Palais, March 13–June 19, 2006 and Washington D. C., National Gallery of Art, July 16–October 15, 2006.

Publication History

Uhde, Wilhelm, Henri Rousseau (Dusseldorf, 1914), pl. 42.

Art Institute of Chicago, Modern Paintings in the Helen Birch Bartlett Memorial from the Birch-Bartlett Collection (Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago, 1926), pp. 4–5 and 51 (ill.).

R. M. F., “Cézanne, Rousseau, Picasso,” Bulletin of The Art Institute of Chicago 20:5 (May 1926), pp. 62 and 64 (ill.).

Watson, Forbes, “A Note on the Birch-Bartlett Collection,” The Arts 9 (June 1926), pp. 310 and 312 (ill.).

Soupault, Phiipippe, Henri Rousseau, Le Douanier (Paris: Éditions des Quatre Chemins, 1927), pl. 36, as Paysage, Exotique.

Zabel, Morton Dauwen, “An American Gallery of Modern Painting,” Art and Archeology 26:6 (December 1928), pp. 228 (ill.), 233, as Landscape. La Cascade.

Art Institute of Chicago, Modern Paintings the Helen Birch Bartlett Memorial from the Birch-Bartlett Collection (Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago, 1929), pp. 10–11 and 57 (ill.).

W. M. M., “A Painting by ‘Papa’ Rousseau,” The Bulletin of The Cleveland Museum of Art 17:1 (January 1930), p. 8.

Sherwood, Walter J., “The Famous Birch Bartlett Collection,” Chicago Visitor (October 1932), p. 40.

Art Institute of Chicago, A Guide to the Paintings in the Permanent Collection (Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago, 1932), p. 169.

Art Institute of Chicago, A Century of Progress: Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture Lent from American Collections, exh. cat. (Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago, 1933), p. 52, cat. 369.

Art Institute of Chicago, “The Century of Progress Exhibition of the Fine Arts,” Bulletin of The Art Institute of Chicago 27:4 (April–May 1933), p. 70.

Art Institute of Chicago, A Century of Progress: Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture, exh. cat. (Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago, 1934), p. 49, cat 322.

A Brief Illustrated Guide to the Collections (Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago, 1935), p. 31.

“Chicago Art Institute,” Life 11:10 (September 8, 1941), n. p. (ill.).

Rich, Daniel Catton, Henri Rousseau, exh. cat. (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1942), 64–65 and 69 (ill.).

Kienitz, John Fabian, “Henri Rousseau,” Art In America 30:2 (April 1942), p. 123 (ill.).

Grey, Roch, Henri Rousseau (Paris: Galerie René Drouin, 1943), no. 102 (ill.), as Les Antilopes dans la Forêt Exotique.

Griot, Alfred, “The Centenary of Henri Rousseau,” Art Quarterly 7:3 (Summer 1944), pp. 206 and 216, fig. 1.

Rich, Daniel Catton, Henri Rousseau, second edition (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1946), pp. 64, 65, and 69 (ill.).

Art Institute of Chicago, Modern Paintings the Helen Birch Bartlett Memorial from the Birch Bartlett Collection (Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago, 1946), pp. 40–41, and 59 (ill.).

An Illustrated Guide to the Collections of The Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago, 1948), p. 37.

Uhde, Wilhelm, Five Primitive Masters, trans. by Ralph Thompson (New York: The Quadrangle Press, 1949), p. 37 (ill.).

XXV Biennale di Venizia: Catalogo (Venice: Alfieri Editore, 1950), p. 235, cat. 20.

“5 Stars for Fall,” Art News 50:7 (November 1951), p. 18.

Fitzsimmons, James, “Henri Rousseau: Very Good but Very Human,” The Art Digest 26:4 (November 15, 1951), p. 18.

Lo Duca, Henri Rousseau dit le Douanier (Paris: Les Éditions du Chêne, 1951), p. 12, pl. IV, as Les Antilopes dans la Forêt Exotique and La Cascade.

Masterpieces in The Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago, 1952) (ill.), as The Waterfall, n.d..

A Brief Guide to the Collections (Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago, 1956), p. 36.

Art Institute of Chicago, Paintings in The Art Institute of Chicago: A Catalogue of the Picture Collection (Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago, 1961), p. 406.

Bouret, Jean, Henri Rousseau (Greenwich, Conn.: New York Graphic Society, 1961), pp. 245 (ill.) and 263, cat. 228, as La cascade, The Waterfall.

Vallier, Dora, Henri Rousseau (Cologne: M. DuMont Schauberg, 1961), no. 158 (ill.), as La cascade. Der kleine Wasserfall.

Art Institute of Chicago, Department of Museum Education, Comments on Selected Paintings in the Collection of The Art Institute of Chicago, Preliminary Edition (Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago, 1962), pp. 63–64.

I Maestri del Colore: Rousseau (Milan: Fratelli Fabbri Editori, 1963), pl. XI.

Effenberger, Vratislav, Henri Rousseau (Praque: Státní nakladatelství krásné literatury aumení, 1963), p. 66, pl. 39.

Instituto de Arte de Chicago (El Mundo de los Museos) (Buenos Aires: Editorial Codex, 1967), pp. 13 and 67, fig. 4, no. 49.

Artieri, Giovanni and Dora Vallier, L’opera completa di Rousseau il Doganiere (Milan: Rizzoli, 1969), pl. LVII, pp. 112 and 113, fig. 251.

Bihalji-Merin, Lise and Oto, Leben und Werk des Malers Henri Rousseau (Dresden: Veb Verlag der Kunst, 1971), pl. 58.

Larkin, David, (editor), Henri Rousseau (New York: Ballantine Books, 1975), no. 36 (ill.).

Morariu, Modest, Douanier Rousseau, trans. by Richard Hillard (London: Abbey Library, 1975), n. p., pl. 61.

Keay, Carolyn, Henri Rousseau: Le Douanier (New York: Rizzoli, 1976), pp. 170–171 and 184, fig. 79.

Maxon, John, The Art Institute of Chicago (London: Thames and Hudson, 1977), pp. 270 and 286 (ill.).

Speyer, A. James and Courtney Graham Donnell, Twentieth-Century European Paintings (Chicago, 1980), p. 68, no. 3G1.

le Pichon, Yann, The World of Henri Rousseau, trans. by Joachim Neugroschel (New York: Viking Press, 1982), pp. 161 (ill.), 283, fig. 161.1.

Stabenow, Cornelia, Henri Rousseau: Die Dschungelbilder (Munich: Schirmer/Mosel, 1984), pp. 40–1 (ill.), 59, 68–9 (ill.), 80, cat. 21.

Certigny, Henry, Le Douanier Rousseau en Son Temps, vol. II (Tokyo: Bunkazai Kenkyujyo, 1984), pp. 692–693, nos. 319 (ill.).

Schlumberger, Eveline, “Jungle de Reve,” Connaissance des Arts 391 (September 1984), pp. 64–65 (ill.).

Brettel, Richard R, “The Bartletts and the Grande Jatte: Collecting Modern Painting in the 1920s,” Museum Studies 12:2 (1986), pp. 111.

“The Helen Birch Bartlett Memorial Collection,” Museum Studies 12:2 (1986), pp. 223 and 230, no. 20 (ill.).

Wood, James N., Treasures of 19th-and 20th-Century Painting: The Art Institute of Chicago (New York: Abbeville Press, 1993), p. 199 (ill.).

Schmalenbach, Werner, Henri Rousseau: Dreams of the Jungle (Munich: Prestel, 1998), pp. 46–47 (ill.).

Green, Christopher, and Frances Morris (eds.), Henri Rousseau: Jungles in Paris, exh. cat. (London: Tate Modern, 2005), pp. 37, 41, 42, fig. 32, 45, 111, 116, and 223, cat. 23.
Joseph J. Rishel, “Arcadia 1900,” Gauguin, Cézanne, Matisse: Visions of Arcadia Exh. cat (Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2012), p. 94, p. 96, fig. 116.

Ownership History

Alphonse Kann (1870–1948), Paris [Vallier 1970]. Sold by George Bernheim, Paris, to Frederick C. Bartlett (1873–1953) Chicago, March 1926 [Brettell 1986]; given to the Art Institute, March 1926.




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