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Three cows graze together in the center of a neat landscape with a variety of trees behind them. 

A light brown cow with white markings, painted in profile pointing left, grazes in the lush green grass. Two other cows, in center and on right are black with white markings face foreword with their heads to the ground. All three have white horns. There’s the suggestion of a small person in blue behind the first two cows. The trees behind them are very ordered with four tall thin trees on the left, a cluster of trees of various heights in the center, and a round and leafy tree on the right. Plain blue sky above. Signed lower right.

Gallery Text

Though often derided by critics of the period as an amateurish “Sunday painter,” Rousseau was celebrated by younger avant-garde artists, including Pablo Picasso, who saw in his idiosyncratic works an evocation of modernity. In 1913, the critic Blaise Cendrars characterized Rousseau’s art as eluding easy classification: “Glorious and maladroit, awkward and elegant, [his] work . . . defies all domineering or dogmatic criticism.”

This is one of a number of bucolic landscapes that Rousseau painted in the Île-de-France region around Paris. The larger trees closely resemble those in his other paintings, while the dappled brushwork in the background creates a subtle screen of autumnal foliage. The sturdy cattle dwarf their archaic-looking herdsman, who wears a Phrygian cap, a soft conical hat first worn by the ancient Greeks. This classical element was the kind of historical reference that Rousseau routinely inserted into his landscapes to lend them an air of fantasy and imagination.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Henri Rousseau, French (Laval France 1844 - 1910 Paris France)
The Banks of the Oise
Work Type
c. 1907
Persistent Link


Level 1, Room 1220, European Art, 19th–20th century, Collection of Maurice Wertheim, Class of 1906
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Physical Descriptions

Oil on canvas
33 x 46 cm (13 x 18 1/8 in.)
framed: 54.3 x 67 x 5.7 cm (21 3/8 x 26 3/8 x 2 1/4 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: l. r.: H. Rousseau [underlined]
  • inscription: back of stretcher: Bords de l'Oise, 1907
  • exhibition label: old backing board: MMFA - 6/21
  • label: old backing board: Box #2/3 of 6
  • label: old backing board: Day and Meyer, Murray & Young / Piece 20
  • exhibition label: old backing board
  • label: old backing board: Owner: Maurice Wertheim / 27 / Artist: Rousseau / Title: Herbage, Bords de l'Oise / National Gallery of Art
  • label: old backing board: The Santini Brothers Inc. N.Y.C., N.Y. / 10"
  • label: old backing board, ink? on a piece of tape, handwritten: MIA 6458


Recorded Ownership History
[Salon des Independants?] sold; to M. Huc, Toulouse. [Paul Rosenberg, Paris(beginning 1912).] Alphonse Kann, Saint-Germain-en-Laye (by 1936-1947), sold; [to Paul Rosenberg, New York] sold; to Maurice Wertheim, New York, NY, (1949-1951) bequest; to Fogg Art Museum, 1951.

Regarding 1947 purchase, see Foreign Service invoice, October 23, 1947

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Bequest from the Collection of Maurice Wertheim, Class of 1906
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art


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Publication History

  • Wilhelm Uhde, Henri Rousseau, E. Figuière (Paris, France, 1911), repr. as no. 12
  • Christian Zervos, Rousseau, Editions Cahiers d'art (Paris, France, 1927), repr. p. 68
  • Roch Grey, Henri Rousseau, Galerie Rene Drouin (Paris, France, 1943), repr. as pl. 71
  • Mario Buzzichini, Henri Rousseau (Milan, Italy, 1944), repr., pl. 17
  • [Unidentified article], Labyrinthe (July 1946 - August 1946), no. 21, repr., p. 5
  • La Peinture Française Depuis 1870: Collection Maurice Wertheim, exh. cat., Tom Taylor (Québec, Canada, 1949), p. 60, fig. 22, repr. p. 61
  • Roger Shattuck, The Banquet Years, Harcourt, Brace and Co. (New York, NY, 1958), repr. pl. 4 and p. 80
  • The Maurice Wertheim Catalogue: Modern French Art-- Monet to Picasso, exh. cat., North Carolina Museum of Art (Raleigh, NC, 1960), p. 48, repr. p. 49
  • Jean Bouret, Henri Rousseau, Idees et Calendes (Neuchâtel, Switzerland, 1961), no. 142
  • Dora Vallier, Henri Rousseau, Flammarion (Paris, France, 1961), no. 111
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection: Manet to Picasso, exh. cat., The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (Houston, TX, 1962), p. 46, pl. 18
  • Dora Vallier, L'Opera Completa di Rousseau il Doganiere, Rizzoli (Milan, Italy, 1969), pp. 88, 111, 113
  • Sandra E. Leonard, Henri Rousseau and Max Weber, Richard L. Feigen & Co. Inc. (New York, NY, 1970), p. 21
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection, exh. cat., Maine State Museum (Augusta, ME, 1972), repr. pl. 32
  • Yoshiaki Tono, Ruso, Kodansha Ltd. (Tokyo, Japan, 1981), repr. in color, no. 41
  • John O'Brian, Degas to Matisse: the Maurice Wertheim Collection, Harry N. Abrams, Inc. and Fogg Art Museum (New York, NY and Cambridge, MA, 1988), no. 27, pp. 114-116, repr. in color p. 115; p. 158
  • Edgar Peters Bowron, European Paintings Before 1900 in the Fogg Art Museum: A Summary Catalogue including Paintings in the Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1990), p. 128; repr. as no. 404
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection and Selected Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Paintings and Drawings in the Fogg Art Museum, exh. cat., Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (New York, NY, 1990), repr. in color no. 32, p. 95
  • [Unidentified article], Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, American Veterinary Medical Association (Schaumburg, IL, March 1, 1996), vol. 208, no. 5, repr. on cover page and p. 627
  • Masterpieces of world art : Fogg Art Museum, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Busch-Reisinger Museum, 1997
  • Elizabeth M. Rudy, "Researching the Wertheim Collection at the Harvard Art Museums", Collections: A Journal for Museum and Archives Professionals (Summer 2014), Vol. 10, No. 3, pp. 301-6, p. 303
  • Greg Stone, Artful Business: 50 Lessons from Creative Geniuses (Boston, 2016), p. 34, ill. (color)

Exhibition History

  • La Peinture Française depuis 1870, Musée de la Province de Quebec, 07/12/1949 - 08/07/1949
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 07/01/1952 - 09/14/1952
  • French Paintings Since 1870 from the Maurice Wertheim Collection, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 06/01/1953 - 09/30/1953
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, 06/15/1957 - 09/15/1957
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, 06/10/1958 - 08/31/1958
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection: Modern French Art--Monet to Picasso, North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, 06/17/1960 - 09/04/1960
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection: Manet to Picasso, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Houston, 06/13/1962 - 09/02/1962
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection, Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, 06/20/1963 - 09/01/1963
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection, Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, 06/24/1965 - 09/07/1965
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection, Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence, 09/03/1968 - 09/22/1968
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection, Montgomery Museum of Art, Montgomery, 06/01/1971 - 09/30/1971
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection, Maine State Museum, Augusta, 06/01/1972 - 09/01/1972
  • Manet to Matisse: The Maurice Wertheim Collection, IBM Gallery of Science and Art, New York, 04/09/1985 - 05/25/1985
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection and Selected Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Paintings and Drawings in the Fogg Art Museum, Isetan Department Store, Tokyo, 03/01/1990 - 04/10/1990; Yamaguchi Prefectural Museum of Art, 04/14/1990 - 05/13/1990
  • Re-View: S427 Impressionist & Postimpressionist Art, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 08/02/2008 - 06/18/2011
  • 32Q: 1220 Wertheim, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

  • Google Art Project

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Verification Level

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