1870 - 1956
Born Jeanne Caffier, in Candé (Anjou), Jeanne Rij-Rousseau became an
Important French cubist painter and philosopher. The last of seven children, she left her family at fourteen. In 1890, she arrived in Paris and became friends with leading artists, including Paul Signac and Edouard
She was initiated with painting by the ‘Nabis,’ a group of artists influenced by Gaugain. They developed a style characterized by flat areas of boldly juxtaposed but muted colors and heavily
outlined surface patterns. They were unified by the decorative character of their work and their dislike of impressionism. Paul Sérusier and Maurice Denis were the principal theorists of the group. Other members were
Édouard Vuillard, Pierre Bonnard, and Aristide Maillol. The group held its first exhibition in 1892. After a successful show in 1899, the group gradually disbanded.
The major text of Sérusier, on the
esthetics of Beuron, had a decisive influence on Rij-Rousseau, leading her toward cubism. She met Fernand Leger and collaborated with the literary review of the avant-garde as headed by Pierre Albert-Birot, and she
probably had the occasion to cross Picasso and Braque. Before she began work on a canvas, she followed a method of developing the complete scheme for each work, using scientific principles of color, light and geometry.
By the formula called vibrism, the artist halfway indicated an attempt between the synthetic cubism of pre-war period and rayonnism.
She married Rousseau, eighteen years her elder, in 1900. In 1913, she
spent three months in Céret with Juan Gris, with whom she had a life-long friendship. She also met Loiseau, a lawyer friendly with their circle of artists, at this time. In August 1914, Jeanne Rousseau organized a
significant exhibition of her works in Germany.
In full war, her husband died; and Rij-Rousseau started recording her memories after her second marriage: "All that was written before the death of my husband I
destroyed. They were the years of beginning, and there were too many emotive things then...” In 1917, Jeanne set out again to try to meet up with Juan Gris. Then, in 1918, Loiseau returned from war, and for Jeanne it
was the beginning of a love which can be traced in her writing and love-letters. Jeanne was around 50 years old when she married Loiseau.
Jeanne Rij-Rousseau considered herself more as a laborer than as a creator.
She wanted her ‘researches’ to achieve perfection, although she knew she wouldn’t succeed, which only made her more a more determined painter. The interest of her compositions lies in colors and shapes much more than in
Jeanne Rij-Rousseau wrote, at the end of her life, of the difficult years: “... I wanted a life of artist; I live it and how much painful, disappointing sometimes generally, that was until now
only hopes and then disappointments.... more and more I dream of good retirement, of the rest which I gained well, because if I did not sell anything, I worked well.” And she left the memory of an alleviated, and
original, but discrete and modest woman.