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A landscape rendered in soft greens, yellows, and browns. There are two large trees at the center of the composition.

A landscape rendered in soft greens, yellows, and browns. There are two large trees at the center of the composition.

Artist Théodore Rousseau (French, 1812–1867)
Title The Oaks (Les Chênes)
Date Ca. 1858
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions Framed: 32 3/8 × 36 1/2 × 4 1/4 in. (82.2 × 92.7 × 10.8 cm)
Support: 21 × 25 1/4 in. (53.3 × 64.1 cm)
Credit Line Evan F. Lilly Memorial, Eskenazi Museum of Art, Indiana University
Accession Number 70.87

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About this Work

Between the 1830s and 1850s, a number of prominent French artists gathered at the village of Barbizon in the forest of Fontainebleau to paint directly from nature. The so-called Barbizon School of painters—with Théodore Rousseau as one of its leaders—took inspiration from seventeenth-century Dutch landscape painters and from English artists such as John Constable. They, in turn, served as mentors for the next generation of French painters, the Impressionists. Although displayed as a finished work at the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1889, this thinly painted, almost monochromatic image of a forest clearing may have been a sketch for a larger work.


1970, Indiana University Art Museum purchase from Wildenstein & Co. Gallery, New York

by 1968, Wildenstein & Co. Gallery, New York

ca. 1967, Provident Securities Co., San Francisco [1]

ca. 1953, William H. Crocker Estate (c/o San Francisco Museum of Art) [2]

ca. 1924–ca. 1953, Collection of Mr. (1861–1937) and Mrs. William H. Crocker, Hillsborough, California [3]

unknown dates, with Paul Durand-Ruel (1831–1922), Paris [4]

June 12, 1890, Sale, “Catalogue of the Celebrated Collection of Paintings by Modern and Ancient Masters Formed by the Late Senator Prosper Crabbe,” Sedelmeyer Galleries, Paris (lot no. 18)

by 1889–1890, Collection of Prosper Crabbe (1827–1885), Brussels [5]

probably: 1887, Sale, “Illustrated Catalogue of the Gallery of Paintings, Sculpture, Bronzes, and Other Art Objects Belonging to the Estate of the Late Robert Graves, American Art Galleries, New York (lot no. 38 as “Oak Trees in Autumn”) [6]

probably: ca. 1885–1887, Collection of Robert Graves (1820–1886), Brooklyn, New York [7]

probably: 1885, Sale, “Catalogue of Mr. George I. Seney’s Collection of Modern Paintings: To Be Sold by Auction Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, March 31st, April 1st and 2nd,” American Art Association, Chickering Hall, New York (lot no. 123 as “Oak Trees in Autumn”)

probably: Before 1885, Collection of George Ingraham Seney (1826–1893), New York
1872, with Paul Durand-Ruel, Paris (stock no. 1709 as “Mare et chênes”) [8]

by 1872, Collection of Admiral Constant Louis Jean Benjamin Jaurès (1823–1889), Paris [9]

probably: by 1867, with Paul Durand-Ruel and Hector Brame, Paris [10]

Notes:

[1] As per loan label from the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, removed from back of painting. Since it is not known when the painting was was transferred to Provident securities, the approximate date is based on that of the exhibition.

[2] Per Allan Scott, Édouard Kopp, and Line Clausen Pedersen, Unruly Nature: The Landscapes of Théodore Rousseau (Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 2016), cat. no. 55, p. 177. It is not known when the painting was first transferred to the Crocker Estate.

[3] Per Allan Scott, Édouard Kopp, and Line Clausen Pedersen, Unruly Nature: The Landscapes of Théodore Rousseau (Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 2016), cat. no. 55, p. 177.

[4] Per Michel Schulman, Théodore Rousseau 1812–1867, Catalogue raisonné de l’oeuvre peint, vol. 2 (Paris: Les éditions de l’Amateur, 1999), cat. no. 578

[5] Listed as the lender to the 1889 Exposition Universelle in the exposition catalogue.

[6] Not illustrated, but the painting was sold under the same title as when Seney owned it and gives Seney as its provenance.

[7] Per Allan Scott, Édouard Kopp, and Line Clausen Pedersen, Unruly Nature: The Landscapes of Théodore Rousseau (Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 2016), cat. no. 55, p. 177.

[8] As stated in the Seney Collection sales catalog, 1885.

[9] As stated in the Seney Collection sales catalog, 1885.

[10] Per Allan Scott, Édouard Kopp, and Line Clausen Pedersen, Unruly Nature: The Landscapes of Théodore Rousseau (Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 2016), cat. no. 55, p. 177.


Provenance research is ongoing for this and many other items in the Eskenazi Museum of Art permanent collection. For more information about the provenance of this artwork, please contact the department curator with specific questions.

September 20, 2018--March 17, 2019, "Americans Abroad: Landscape and Artistic Exchange, 1800-1920," Tsinghua University Art Museum, Beijing, China (cat. p. 108-109)

June 21, 2016–January 8, 2017, “Theodore Rousseau: Unruly Nature,” The J. Paul Getty Museum, the Getty Center, Los Angeles, CA, June 21–September 11, 2016; Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark, October 13, 2016–January 8, 2017

January 29, 1991–March 29, 1992, “Corot to Manet: The Rise of Landscape Painting in France,” The Currier Gallery of Art, Manchester, NH, January 29–April 28, 1991; IBM Gallery of Science & Art, New York, NY, July 30–September 28, 1991; Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX, November 10, 1991–January 5, 1992; High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA, January 28–March 29, 1992

March 5–April 18, 1978, “French Nineteenth Century Oil Sketches: David to Degas,” Hayes Ackland Memorial Art Center, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC

October 28–December 6, 1975, “Nature as Scene: French Landscape Painting from Poussin to Bonnard,” Wildenstein & Co., New York, NY

March 24–June 19, 1953, “The French Impressionists,” Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver

June 2–June 30, 1936, “Survey of Landscape Painting,” San Francisco Museum of Art, San Francisco, CA

June 8–July 8, 1934, “Exhibition of French Paintings from the Fifteenth Century to the Present Day,” California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco, CA

1924–1925, “Inaugural Exposition of French Art,” California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco, CA

1889, “Exposition de l’art français (1789–1889), Exposition universelle internationale,” Paris, France (as "Les Chênes")

Possibly: 1867, Theodore Rousseau exhibition, Cercle des Artes, Paris, France [1]

Notes:

[1] The painting has been tentatively identified by Scott Allan, curator at the Getty Center, and art historian Simon Kelly as no. 87: "Chênes détachés sur la lisière des gorges d'Apremont. Plusieurs sentiers parallèles traversent le terrain," 1858, L. 65 c.; H. 54 c.

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"The Oaks | Collections Online." Collections Online. Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Indiana University, 2023. https://artmuseum.indiana.edu/collections-online/browse/object.php?number=70.87