There was not much time for joy remaining. One evening he visited me in the ancient cloister on the Boulevard des Invalides in which I then made my home. The high windows were open wide to the breeze drifting in from the park across the way, and it was so dark I could scarcely see his features. But I gathered from an undertone in his voice that he was in a solemn mood. So he was. He fell to talking about war, and he hated war. “If a king tries to start a war,” he declared with great gravity, “a mother should go to him and forbid it.”
On July 14, 1910 – the last Quatorze Juillet he lived to celebrate – I went to his room. There were other callers and he was dressed for the holiday and on the point of pouring some wine. “Do you love peace ?” he demanded, and when I said yes, we all drank to peace. Then he took me by the hand, led me to the window and pointed out the German flag – my native flag – fluttering among the others below.
On a hot August day a few weeks later I knocked at his door. Receiving no answer, I walked in. He lay on a bed, ghastly pale. There was a painful sore on his leg. He was so apathetic that he didn’t even brush away the flies which buzzed around his face, but did talk of getting up soon and going on with his painting. Some days after that, I came home to find a note saying that he was dying in Necker Hospital and begged me to come as soon as possible. I rushed there and found him sinking fast. For hours I sat by his bed, and he clasped my hand tightly. Two days later he died. He was 66 years old.
Upper: Henri Rousseau, The Representatives of Foreign Powers Coming To Greet The Republic As A Sign Of Peace, 1910, Musée Picasso, Paris.
Lower: Henri Rousseau, The Customs Post, 1890, Courtauld Institute Gallery of Art, London.
Text: Wilhelm Uhde, Five Primitive Masters (translated by Ralph Thompson), New York, Quadrangle Books, 1949.Some Mother's Son -- The Kinks (Link)