We Greet You, Gentle Rousseau


Rousseau’s grave with poem by Apollinaire

 
 

“We greet you

Gentle Rousseau, you hear us

Delaunay his wife Monsieur Quával and I

Let our baggage pass free through heaven’s gate

We’ll bring you brushes, paints and canvases

So that you can devote your sacred leisures

In the Real light to painting, as you did my portrait,

Painting the Face of the stars.”

Guillaume Apollinaire

1912

Translation of the inscription

 
 

The poet, writer and critic Guillaume Apollinaire was an influential figure in early twentieth-century artistic circles. For the last few years of Henri Rousseau’s life, Apollinaire was one of his staunchest supporters, and wrote in praise of his work. In 1910, shortly before Rousseau exhibited his last great painting The Dream 1910, he appealed to Apollinaire: ‘You will unfold your literary talent and avenge me for all the insults and abuse I have experienced.’ Rousseau made two versions of the double portrait of Apollinaire with his mistress Marie Laurencin. He grandly titled it The Muse Inspiring the Poet (1909).

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