Sawmill, Outskirts of Paris 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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In the art spheres, Henri Rousseau is regarded as a genius. This was majorly because of the fact that Henri was a self-taught artistic genius in between 1844 and 1910. His paintings and techniques still have a great impact on many artists today, especially in the avant-garde movement.


The Sawmill, Outskirts painting by Henri Rousseau is more than 120 years old and it is a fantastic expression of perspective as you watch the roads and flowers recede into space in the background. The 19th century painting accurately depicts the beauty of the sawmill and its environs. Lying in the middle ground, the sawmill lying in the outskirts of Paris is able to stand out because of the lush greenery around it, both in the foreground and the background.

Style and Technique

Since Henri Rousseau grew up copying and improving on previous works he had seen in museums of Paris while enjoying his spare time, it is evident that that is what he used on this painting. Although there is some element of perspective on the painting, Henri never actually studied perspective and anatomy in any art school.

That is why when you look at the painting, you will immediately notice its dreamlike and childish technique of painting. This style is what was referred to as primitive or naïve. Also, you will notice that his brushstrokes on the oil canvas painting were comprised of vivid colours. Just like most of his other signature paintings, this painting portrays the sawmill in the somewhat jungle background in the outskirts of Paris.

Inspirations and Influences

Henri Rousseau's influences and inspirations were mainly from the botanical gardens and illustrated books in Paris. This is because Henri Rousseau didn’t really attend any art school, which is why his style of art was native art primitivism. Furthermore, he derived inspirations from tableaux of "taxidermified" wild animals. Another source of inspiration for him were the soldiers that he had encountered while he was at service. These soldiers had survived a battle to Mexico and their stories also hugely influenced how he did and perceived art.

He was also a huge influence to other major names in the art industry, one of them being Picasso. A great example of his influence on Picasso’s works was the dove of peace in 1937 that greatly portrayed Henri’s artistic influence. He was also the reason why Picasso chose to ‘’put himself on the line’’ when it came to art.