In two-dimensional works of art, such as painting, printmaking, photography or bas-relief, repoussoir (French: [ʁəpuswaʁ], pushing back) is an object along the right or left foreground that directs the viewer's eye into the composition by bracketing (framing) the edge. It became popular with Mannerist and Baroque artists, and is found frequently in Dutch seventeenth-century landscape paintings. Jacob van Ruisdael, for example, often included a tree along one side to enclose the scene (see illustration). Figures are also commonly employed as repoussoir devices by artists such as Paolo Veronese, Peter Paul Rubens and Impressionists such as Gustave Caillebotte.
The Four Philosophers (c. 1615. Oil on panel; 167 x 143 cm, Pitti Palace, Florence). In his friendship portrait of himself, his brother Philip Rubens, Justus Lipsius and Jan van den Wouwer (left to right), the painter Rubens's self-portrait on the left is an example of a figural repoussoir that is further accentuated by the flowing red curtain.
- Wind, Edgar (October 1938). "The revolution of history painting". Journal of the Warburg Institute. 2 (2): 117. doi:10.2307/750085. JSTOR 750085.
He fulfils the function of a 'repoussoir',and by leading the imagination into a distant land,effectively offsets the shock of seeing the hero die in a modern uniform.