“The Customs Post” by Henri Rousseau
“The Customs Post” by Henri Rousseau depicts the uniformed employees of the Paris Customs Office at an octroi or toll gate to enter Paris. The Paris Customs Office charged a tax, called l’octroi, on most goods brought into the city.
A wall surrounded Paris, and everyone entered the city through one of the gates.
In the late 1800s, there were 66 octroi gates into the city at the time, and about 2,000 officers were employed, Henri Rousseau was one of them. The citizens of Paris strongly disliked the octroi, but the government needed the money.
The old octroi buildings can still be seen in Paris today.
Rousseau was self-taught and developed a style that lacked traditional training, with its absence of strict proportions, a one-point perspective, and with the use of sharp, often unnatural colors.
The result was art pieces that were imbued with a sense of mystery and eccentricity.
Henri Rousseau was a French post-impressionist painter who started painting seriously in his early forties, and by age 49, he retired from his job to work on his art full-time.
His primary employment before he retired was as the customs officer or a toll and tax collector, which makes this painting relevant to his experience.
Ridiculed during his lifetime by critics, he came to be recognized as a self-taught genius whose work exerted an extensive influence on several generations of avant-garde artists.
Toll Gate by Henri Rousseau
- Title: Toll Gate or The Customs Post
- Français: L’Octroi
- Artist: Henri Rousseau
- Medium: Oil on canvas
- Date: 1890
- Dimensions: 61 × 49.5 cm (24 × 19.5 in)
- Museum: Courtauld Gallery
- Name: Henri Julien Félix Rousseau
- Born: 1844 – Laval, Mayenne, France
- Died: 1910 (aged 66) – Paris, France
- Nationality: French
- Movement: Post-Impressionism, Naïve art, Primitivism
- Notable works:
- The Customs Post
- The Sleeping Gypsy
- The Repast of the Lion
- Tiger in a Tropical Storm
- The Dream
- Primitivism and Naïve Art by Henri Rousseau
A Tour of the Courtauld Gallery
- “A Bar at the Folies-Bergère” by Édouard Manet
- “The Customs Post” by Henri Rousseau
- “The Theater Box” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir
- “The Card Players” by Paul Cézanne
- “Seated Nude” by Amedeo Modigliani
Henri Rousseau Quotes
“Beauty is the promise of happiness ”
“The universe was born restless and has never since been still.”
“It is often said that my heart is too open for my own good.”
“Excuse my scribbling, it is late, and I have a poor candle. ”
“I have always believed that good is only beauty put into practice.”
“If you remove these lines in the painting, the colors are no longer effective ”
“When I go out into the countryside and see the sun and the green and everything flowering, I say to myself, “Yes indeed, all that belongs to me!”
“I felt before, I thought.”
“It is often said that my heart is too open for my own good. ”
“The landscapist lives in silence.”
“Cities are the sinks of the human race.”
“I cannot now change my style, which I acquired, as you can imagine, by dint of labor.”
“What wisdom can you find that is greater than kindness. ”
“The happiest is the person who suffers the least pain; most miserable the ones who enjoy the least pleasure ”
“Nothing makes me so happy as to observe nature and to paint what I see.”
– Henri Rousseau
Photo Credit: Henri Rousseau [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons