A Centennial of Independence Henri Rousseau Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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The Centennial of Independence, created in France, is a symbol of peace, jubilation, and unity in itself. Its original published title is “Un centenaire de l'Indépendance” expressing its French origin and culture.

Henri Rousseau (1844-1910), a French painter who made a commemoration of the 1792 first French Republic proclamation by a painting. In 1892, the hundredth anniversary, Henri presented this painting copying a magazine’s image of the French people dancing. The famous dance from southern French, the farandole. He transformed the illustration from the magazine to make the painting an original by making some modifications.

This painting contains a lot of symbolism that shows good governance and happy citizens. Henri included the dancers from the magazine copy and incorporated waving posters, independence posts along with more symbolic features to bring the painting to life and make it authentic. The Centennial of Independence has a unique theme incorporated with bright colours that were used to express a cheerful and jubilant mood for the French people at the time. This reminded them of their struggle and certain success within the 100 years of independence. Rousseau customized the caps of mountain people to liberty caps according to his theme of French independence.

At the center of the painting, he added two women holding up two flags, the three-colour French flag and the flag of Paris City. Both flags’ colours, red, blue, and white, have significance to the people of France. The white colour on the national flag has been given many meanings as times changed. It represented the king, clergy, and navy which have all been associated with the colour. The red and blue colours of both flags are related to the city of Paris famously deemed significant to French radicals.

The two women represent both French republics, the France First Republic and the Third Republic, 1792-1802 and 1870-1940 respectively. The three liberty trees with leaves shaped like stars in the background were planted at the time of remembrance occasions, say, the French Revolution. The carriage at the back with dancers dressed in costumes accompanying it represented the parades Henri had witnessed in his time. The dignitaries responsible for the French good governance and prosperity are represented by the well-dressed people on the bottom right of the painting. Another artist that you might be interested in Catalan painter, Joan Miro. He produced the likes of Red Sun, Singing Fish and Carnival of Harlequin.