PARTY FOR ROUSSEAU
1995 Donald R Ricker
(46"x94" oil on hardboard)
detail of Rousseau's tombstone
Le Douanier was the nickname given Rousseau because he had worked with customs. He died penniless, and the year following his death, Delauney and Queval (Rousseau's landlord) contributed to buy a plot in the cemetery and to erect a small tombstone with a bronze medallion of Rousseau.
Apollinaire wrote in chalk an epitaph which immortalizes Rousseau. The chalk was renewed each year until Brancusi chiseled the lines into the stone in 1913: "Gentle Rousseau you hear us / We salute you / Delauney, his wife, Monsieur Queval and I / Let our baggage through free at heaven's gate. We shall bring you brushes and paints and canvas / So that you can devote your sacred leisure / In the light of reality / To painting the way you did my portrait / The faces of the stars."
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