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Henri Rousseau

1844-1910 France/Naive

 

Brief Biography-When I first landed in New York, I checked into my hotel and was in the Museum of Modern Art within two hours with excitement. Of course, I walked straight into a group of Chinese students milling like bees around a painting, which I could barely see; the top looked like Van Gogh’s Starry Night. Unfortunately, it would have taken me another hour to begin viewing. I have always found what I refer to as the Wall of China impenetrable. It extends from the Uffizi to the Prado and now the MOMA. As usual, I turned away, but behold, to my right was a painting by one of my favourite artists, Henri Rousseau, The Sleeping Gypsy, without one viewer. I had it all to myself! Thank you, China, and thank you, Vincent.
Henri Rousseau began painting as a hobby c. 1880. According to himself, he was a saxophonist with a military band in Mexico from the age of eighteen; this is undoubtedly untrue; however, he did serve during the Franco-Prussian war. Rousseau married in 1869 and was to have seven children, yet only two of them survived childhood. His wife died in 1888, and he married a second time in 1899. In 1871, he worked for the Paris toll gates’ customs, which gave him the pseudonym Le Douanier.
He first exhibited his works at the Salon des Artistes Indépendants in 1886. His paintings greatly amused the public, but they never put him off; he intended to paint as an academic one day. He met many of the principal artists of the day who encouraged him when not laughing at him, including Jean-Léon Gérôme. Picasso was fond of him and held a banquet celebrating his works in 1908, albeit a humorous party. The public and many art critics ridiculed Rousseau’s naive style, but this naivety made his work unique as he viewed scenes as freshly as a child sees them, without the constraints of academicism, which he yearned but could not thankfully grasp.

 

Click an Image to Enlarge

On the Edge
of the Forest

On the Edge of the Forest

The
Customs Post

The Customs Post

The Luxembourg
Gardens-

The Luxembourg Gardens-Monument to Chopin

The Representatives
of Foreign Powers-

The Representatives of Foreign Powers Coming to Greet the Republic as a Sign of Peace

The
Artillerymen

The Artillerymen

Boy on
the Rocks

Boy on the Rocks


Surprised!

Surprised! Tiger in a Tropical Storm

Le Chat
Tigre

Le Chat Tigre

A Carnival
Evening

A Carnival Evening

The
Dream

The Dream

Man
and Cat

Man and Cat

Pere
Juniet's Cart

Pere Juniet's Cart


Zeplin

Landscape and Zeplin


Myself

Myself: Portrait Landscape


War

War

Football
Players

The Football Players

The Snake
Charmer

The Snake Charmer

The Sleeping
Gypsy

The Sleeping Gypsy

Notre
Dame

Notre Dame

The
Hungry Lion

The Hungry lion

The
Flamingos

The Flamingos

Bad
Surprise

Bad Surprise

Attacked
by a Tiger-

Attacked by a Tiger-Ranger

Bouquet
of Flowers

Bouquet of Flowers


Clemence

Clemence


Malakoff

Malakoff

Exotic
Landscape

Exotic Landscape

The
Chicken Pen

The Chicken Pen

Struggle between
Tiger and Bull

Struggle between Tiger and Bull

Fight Between a
Tiger and a Buffalo

Fight Between a Tiger and a Buffalo

The Centennial of
Independence

The Centennial of Independence

In Celebration
of the Child

In Celebration of the Child

Joseph
Brummer

Joseph Brummer

The
Mill

The Mill

Woman
Walking-

Woman Walking in an Exotic Forest

The
Moulin d'Alfort

The Moulin d-Alfort

The
Pasture

The Pasture

Equatorial
Jungle

The Equatorial Jungle

The
Repast

The Repast of the Lion

The
Quai d'Ivry

View of the Quai d-Ivry

The Artist's Second
Wife with a Lamp

The Artist-s Second Wife with a Lamp

Self-portrait
with a Lamp

Self-portrait