Portrait de Madame M. 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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Portrait de Madame M, by Henri Rousseau, is one of the most popular paintings by the famous French Artist. This painting is made in the naïve or primitive style, which is a signature Henri Rousseau style. The painting was created somewhere between 1844 and 1910.

Description of the painting

The painting features the heroin standing with one hand on her waist. She has on a long black dress. The dress is tight-fitting from the neck to the waist, with a black belt attached at the waist. It shows off the heroine's curves tastefully. The dress covers her to her feet. You cannot see whether she has shoes on or not because of the length of the dress. The dress has wide elbow length-arms. On her neck is a yellow collar. The heroine has a pearl bracelet on one of her arms (the one on the waist). Her other hand also features a white bracelet, which is not similar to the other one. On this hand, she is holding an umbrella. The heroine, Madame M, features a short haircut and a bold and confident facial expression.

Behind the heroine is a bush with short and average height plants. There are also a few white and pink flowers at the composition's bottom right and left area. At her feet, directly beneath the umbrella, is a cat. The cat appears to be holding a string from a ball of string. The ball of string is also seen directly at the heroine's feet. The woman appears to be standing on a clearly defined path in between bushes. The background of the painting features a cloudy sky. The sky is so cloudy that you can hardly see the color of the sky beyond the clouds.

More about the composition

The contrast between the woman's mode of dressing and overall appearance and the bushy background is typical in most of Henri Rousseau's works. Note that Nenri is also known for making paintings that depict jungle scenes. However, he never left France or saw a jungle throughout his life. Therefore, his jungle paintings were mostly inspired by illustrations in Childre's books and the Paris botanical gardens. Through his works, Henri is said to have invented a new genre of portrait landscape. Similar paintings include Jungles in Paris. Henri also created several portrait paintings like Portrait de Monsieur, Boy on the Rocks, and Henri Rousseau's self-portrait.


The original Portrait de Madame M is currently located at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, alongside several other paintings by Henri Rousseau. However, there are several recompositions of the painting in the market.