The signature is not the master. The museum of Naive Art in Laval has made the unfortunate experience. After analysis, the array received in August 2017 bearing the signature “Henri Rousseau” was a fake. The work, which depicts a fisherman in a rural landscape where the profile of a factory chimney in the background, had been brought to the home of the museum by a generous donor. The canvas was packaged in bubble wrap and protected by a simple cardboard box.

The table Landscape with a fisherman signed “Henri Rousseau” is ultimately a fake. JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP

The event had created the surprise. The table was accompanied by a letter in which its mysterious owner, an elderly person, and without a direct heir, justified his gesture by his disappointment to see that the city is the birthplace of the Douanier Rousseau had three of his works. It was also stated to want to remain anonymous. With the letter, was attached a photograph of the work, bearing on the verso a certificate of authenticity of manuscript, dated 1995 and signed by Dora Vallier, critic and historian of art

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But already, one was uncertain about the veracity of the table. “For the moment nothing can not confirm, nor deny the authenticity of the table because there are very good counterfeiters,” had said at the time, Yann Le Pichon, the sole legatee of the artist. In a press release, the city of laval reminds us that the donor had not provided “any indication of origin of the work”. Before you point out that “despite the research made in the various collections, the history of the table could not be traced”.

A pigment anachronistic Signature of Henri Rousseau dit le Douanier Rousseau. Rue des Archives/©Rue des Archives/RDA

And the doubt was well justified. According to an x-ray conducted by the Centre for research and restoration of museums of France (C2RMF), who has examined the painting, the canvas was painted over a composition representing a landscape classic of the Nineteenth century. But it is the analysis of the signature, white in color and traced with a titanium white, which has really allowed us to settle. “This last pigment poses a problem of anachronism because Rousseau died in 1910, and the titanium white has been patented in 1915-17, and then available in the following years,” says the report.

experts have also uncovered a “network of fake cracks painted”. In other words, all the observations confirm “that this table is not a work of Henri Rousseau”. An end Point of the mystery in the hometown of the artist.

” READ ALSO – The Douanier Rousseau: naïve, naive and-a-half

The Dream , painting by Henri Rousseau dit le Douanier Rousseau, 1910. Rue des Archives/© Granger NYC/Rue des Archives

Regarded as the master of naive painting, French, Henri Rousseau, dit le Douanier Rousseau (1844-1910) is best known for its jungles exotic. The painter found his inspiration in the greenhouses of the Jardin des Plantes of Paris and the Natural History galleries. Marginal in its time, it has a lot spread his canvases, selling them at a low price to neighbors and friends.