A Moment of Respite: The Dream by Henri Rousseau
March 22, 2020 10:37 AM   Subscribe

What lurks in the mysterious jungle? Here’s a remarkable piece (“The Dream, ” 1910) by an artist who was ridiculed for his lack of training and traditional skill. Henri Rousseau was a toll/tax collector for over 20 years in Paris in the late 1800s. He was a hard working family man who did not take up painting until he was in his forties. He had no traditional training per se, but had an unwavering faith in his own art. Mildly NSFW.... if anyone is AT work. SFWAH.

This was Rousseau’s final exhibited painting. Sad, because he seems to have hit his niche. His story is fascinating. He spent his first four decades living an ordinary life, in the army and later working as a toll/tax collector. Only later, in his 40’s and onward, he became serious about his painting, despite a good deal of ridicule every time the paintings were exhibited in public. He took and early pension at 49 and took up painting full time.
posted by ecorrocio (8 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
I was always more partial to The Sleeping Gypsy but both paintings benefit greatly from the same reticence to explain what has led to the scene depicted, which requires the viewer to resort to imagination to fill in the story.
posted by Nerd of the North at 11:25 AM on March 22 [1 favorite]

Well, what does lurk in Rousseau's jungles? It's a common location of his -- see also, The Merry Jesters, The Snake Charmer, Tiger in a Tropical Storm, Jungle With Lion, Exotic Landscape or the one I'm most familiar with (since it hangs in DC) Tropical Forest With Monkeys but as far as I can see, the question isn't answered. Nevertheless he's one of favorite artists.
posted by Rash at 11:45 AM on March 22

Thank you for posting! Ever since I was a kid and saw that big Impressionist exhibit that toured the world (what was that collection? Gah now I can't remember) I have loved Rousseau's work.
posted by Mrs. Rattery at 11:48 AM on March 22

My girlfriend in university insisted that I hang her print of The Sleeping Gypsy above the bed in my room. Reader, it was prophetic.
posted by sneebler at 4:23 PM on March 22 [3 favorites]

Rousseau is interesting, he almost has a modern 2000's illustrator's style, like a stylized magazine illustration. Especially the non-jungle ones: see self portrait and The Eiffel Tower.

I'm loving these art posts, keep 'em coming!
posted by mmoncur at 4:42 PM on March 22 [5 favorites]

Thanks, always grateful for late bloomer stories.
posted by johngoren at 2:32 AM on March 23 [3 favorites]

Like johngoren, I appreciate the late bloomer story here, and I thank you profusely for this post.
posted by ivanthenotsoterrible at 11:42 AM on March 23

One of my favourite artists; I look forward to the National Gallery reopening so that I can go and see the tiger again. Thank you for posting.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 11:51 AM on March 25

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