Henri Rousseau

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Henri Rousseau- archetype of the modern naïve artist


Henri Julien Felix Rousseau, a self-taught painter, was born in Laval in northwest France on May 21, 1844. He attended school in his teen times until 1860. In his late teen, he started working for a lawyer and then got enlisted in the army. In 1868, he moved to Paris and left the army, and worked as a toll collector.

Early life and work

In the meantime, as a collector, he started painting in his free time. Although he never had any art education, he started it by copying paintings from an art museum in Paris. Being an untrained and self-made artist, his works were "naïve" and childlike. The vivid colors, non-realistic scale, ambiguous spaces, and dramatic intensity gave his paintings a dreamlike quality yet appreciable.

Many of his painting were similar to Wild animals or humans in a jungle setting. The zoo and botanical gardens in Paris visit inspired his imagination. Myself Portrait-Landscape was the first painting he made in 1890. "Tiger in a Tropical Storm" was the first jungle painting he made in 1891.

 ‘Le douanier’ and the avant- garde 

Paris did not accept his art, but he displayed them in Societe des artistes independents. Camille Pissarro and Paul Signac appreciated his art. In 1893, he got retired from the toll collector job and devoted his all-time to art. In that same year, he met Alfred Jarry, who gave him Le douanier.' Jarry introduced him to many artists, including Pablo Picasso.

Death and impression

He took his last breath on September 2, 1910, in Paris itself. But his works continue to inspire many other artists. His paintings are held in many museums around the world. In New York, the museum arts showcase two of his most famous works, The Sleeping Gypsy (1897) and The Dream(1910), which showcases a nude woman on a couch who magically transported to jungles. His other works are also showcased in many museums of the world.