Tag Archives: Henri Rousseau

Henri Rousseau

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Henri Rousseau

The French post-impressionist painter Henri Rousseau (May 21, 1844 – September 2, 1910) was largely self-taught and thought of by his contemporaries as primitive in style.

As a young student, he received mostly mediocre grades, but won prizes for drawing and music. He had a very brief legal services career, followed by four years in the army. After his father’s death, he moved back to Paris so he could help support his mother as a tax collector. He married, and he and his wife had six children, only one of whom survived infancy. Ten years after his first wife passed away, he married again.

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Henri Rousseau, Tiger in a Tropical Storm (Surprised!)

In his early forties, he began painting seriously. By age 49, he retired from his day job and began painting full-time, supplementing his small pension with odd jobs and playing his violin in the street. (Click on the smaller images to enlarge and read the captions.)

His paintings had a dream-like quality to them. He is best known for his exotic jungle scenes.

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Henri Rousseau, The Dream

In March of 1910, he developed an inflammation in his leg, which he neglected. By August, he had gangrene; a post-operative blood clot killed him.

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Henri Rousseau, The Sleeping Gypsy

Guest Post: “The Sleeping Gypsy” by Henri Rousseau (from Joy of Museums)

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Thank you to Joy of Museums for today’s guest post.
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“The Sleeping Gypsy” by Henri Rousseau

The Sleeping Gypsy by Henri Rousseau is a fantasy depiction of a lion musing over a sleeping woman on a moonlit night. Rousseau described his painting as:

“A wandering Negress, a mandolin player, lied down with her jar beside her and overcome by fatigue in a deep sleep. A lion chances to pass by picks up her scent yet does not devour her. There is a moonlight effect, very poetic.”

Henri Rousseau was self-taught and developed a style that lacked traditional training, with its absence of strict proportions, one-point perspective, and with the use of sharp, often unnatural colours. The result was art pieces that were imbued with a sense of mystery and eccentricity.

Rousseau started painting seriously in his early forties, and by age 49 he retired from his job to work on his art full-time. His primary employment before he retired was as the customs officer and tax collector. Ridiculed during his lifetime by critics, he came to be recognised as a self-taught genius whose work exerted an extensive influence on several generations of avant-garde artists.

The Sleeping Gypsy

  • Title:                            The Sleeping Gypsy
  • French:                        La Bohémienne endormie
  • Artist:                          Henri Rousseau
  • Date:                            1897
  • Medium:                     Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions:               129.5 cm × 200.7 cm (51.0 in × 79.0 in)
  • Museum:                     Metropolitan Museum of Art – MET, New York, USA

Henri Rousseau

  • Name:                   Henri Julien Félix Rousseau
  • Born:                    1844 – Laval, Mayenne, France
  • Died:                     1910 (aged 66) – Paris, France
  • Nationality:         French
  • Movement:          Post-Impressionism, Naïve art, Primitivism
  • Notable works:

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