Persona December, 26th 2019 by

  World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 244 - Henri Rousseau

rousseau – 1

World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 244 – Henri Rousseau
Henri Rousseau worked in a naive or primitive style. It took a long time before a painting was finished. Mostly nature scenes, sometimes a cityscape with a figure in the foreground. He called this his ‘portrait landscapes’. He became best known for his jungle scenes, inspired by his visits to the Natural History Museum and botanical gardens such as the greenhouses in the Jardin des Plantes in Paris.

rousseau – 2

His first painting of the jungle was Tigre dans une tempête tropicale, also called Surpris! (1891). He started with the blue sky and ended with all kinds of animals and flowers in the foreground. He made a self-portrait in which he plays ukulele sitting on a tiger. Rousseau used more than 50 shades of green for his jungles. All kinds of animals are hidden in his jungle. Similarly in Le Gitan endormi, (The sleeping gypsy) in which a lion is sniffing at a sleeping woman. The painting was rejected by the official Salon in 1897 and was subsequently exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants.

henri rousseau – 3

Henri Rousseau Le Douanier
Henri Rousseau was born in 1844 in Laval, a city in western France, 300 km from Paris, not far from Brittany and Normandy. There he visited the Lyceum. He enlisted in the army, became a military musician and came to work in a toll booth on the outskirts of Paris. In 1869 he applied for a job at the Paris customs and was given the job, but he did not reach the rank of customs officer. Nevertheless, everyone called him Henri Rousseau Le Douanier. He was called up for the war, the Franco-German war of 1870-’71 and received the rank of non-commissioned officer.

henri rousseau – 4-

He was happy that the war was over in 1871, he had discovered painting and had become obsessed with it. He was nearing his forties. He had not received any training and was therefore not committed to classical traditions. He initially received little appreciation for his works, people thought his style was childish. He was just a fiddler, according to his classical colleagues, but Rousseau always believed in his art.

henri rousseau – 5-

In 1890 he met other painters and draftsmen such as Toulouse-Lautrec, Gauguin, Redon, Seurat and Pisarro. In 1893 he succeeded in being early retired so that he could spend all his time painting. The writer Alfred Jarry encouraged him and introduced him to literary circles. Rousseau also started writing and published a play ‘La Vengeance d’une orpheline Russe’. And he wrote music, even composed the waltz Clémence (1904).

rousseau – 6

The Mexican jungle
Behind his easel, he conjured up fantastic scenes, including the jungle scenes. When people asked where it came from, he often said he had been to the Mexican jungle. But he never stepped outside of France.

rousseau – 7

In 1906 he became friends with Robert Delaunay and in 1907 with Wilhelm Uhde who published the first monograph about him in 1907. In 1908, Rousseau started organizing family musical evenings in his studio. In the same year, Picasso organized a banquet in honor of Rousseau in the presence of Max Jacob, Guillaume Apollinaire and Marie Laurencin, among others. At the banquet he got some medals pinned, as a sign that he belonged to the scene.

rousseau – 8

The breakthrough came through the surrealists. “Rousseau shows that an untrained eye can see more and reach beyond a classic eye.” The collectors Ambroise Vollard and Joseph Brummer bought his work. Wilhelm Uhde organized the first solo exhibition in 1909 in a furniture store on Rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs.

rousseau – 9

Rousseau died September 2, 1910 in Paris. In that year his work was exhibited in Alfred Stieglitz’s Gallery 291 in New York. The following year there was a retrospective in the Salon des Indépendants.
After his death, his fame rose and he was fully recognized, but during his life he struggled to make ends meet.

rousseau – 10

Disclaimer: The views, opinions and positions expressed within this guest article are those of the author alone and do not represent those of the Marbella Marbella website. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with the author.


What did you think of this article?

The latest ideas for you to check out

The latest hits for you to check out