Henri Rousseau was a regional administrator in Paris and served as a revenue clerk outside the capital, earning him the moniker Le Douanier. He was born in 1844 in a commuter town in northwest France known as Laval. Self-taught, Rousseau could not pursue painting as a career until he retired in 1893. He sought to join the elite painters of the strongly traditional French Academy, notwithstanding these unfavorable circumstances.
However, since he was an outsider, Rousseau was unfamiliar with the conventions of the creative community. Although he worked in traditional genres, producing portraits, landscapes, exotic scenes, and allegories, his work was considered to evoke a sense of mystery since it provoked both derision and admiration.
Unlike academic painters, Rousseau introduced the application of openness to popular culture’s resources, such as dime store adventure books, illustrated magazines, pictures, and postcards, frequently incorporating their powerful visual qualities and theatrical content into his paintings.
World-famous painter Henri Rousseau became famous due to his remarkable depictions of the forest, complete with adorable plants and animals. Though this painter never left France to see the exotic foreign environment, he could still create these amazing works through his imagination and study of gardens.
There is a long list of Henri Rousseau Jungle paintings influenced by trips to botanical gardens and zoos, further portraying urban dwellers’ inventions, imperial monologues, and depictions of far-off places seen only in magazines and books. A reflection of his paintings depicting a serene day-to-day Paris, these eerily romantic portraits of frightening distant locations powerfully foreshadowed the innate insecurities of a future picturesque universe.
Rousseau composed his amazing paintings in layers. He usually began with a backdrop sky and concluded with the foreground creatures or humans. He also used innovative brushwork. Just consider the showers portrayed in Tiger in a Tropical Storm; it’s accomplished with slender, gray threads of paint brushed across the canvas with a glaze or varnish.
The artist’s “lifelong adoration for the silky finishes of Bouguereau” had an impact on the outcome of his paintings. When the artist depicted jungles, he often exhausted many shades of the color green.
Although it was naturally conceived, his portrayal of leaves loyally follows his painting instincts; consequently, it’s frequently difficult to identify as composed of a particular plant. In addition, he spent a lot of time on each painting; hence there aren’t many of his creations. Finally, because of his limited resources, he also utilized student-grade pigment for his paintings. But due to his extraordinary artistic genius, he could use his available inadequate resources to create amazing works.
Rousseau’s flat, almost juvenile style earned him many “haters .”His work frequently sparked astonishment or was mocked by others. He was incredibly clever, but he had no idea that established painters thought he was untaught and naive. He unsuccessfully sought social acceptability.
Several individuals even stated that he painted like a toddler and didn’t know what he was doing. However, most modern reviewers believe that his work remarkably demonstrates unique expertise.
Many early critics of Henri Rousseau’s paintings made fun of his simple and unique style, with one Parisian reporter saying the artist creates art with his legs and closed eyes. However, subsequent artists like Picasso saw in Rousseau’s paintings a pattern for the sincerity and honesty which they sought within their works by pulling inspirations from the indigenous masks of Africa and other “primitive” and antique art forms.
He began exhibiting often in the Salon des Indépendants in 1886, and although his work was not shown prominently, it gained popularity over time. The Hungry Lion Throws Itself on the Antelope, a sizable painting of a jungle scene, was displayed in 1905 at the Salon des Indépendants alongside pieces by younger, more prominent avant-garde artists, including Henri Matisse. This exhibition is now regarded as the debut of The Fauves, a troupe of upcoming artists whose paintings portrayed the surrealistic impressions of raw color far above the symbolic ideas that the concept of Impressionism advanced.
Berthe, Comtesse de Delaunay, the mother of painter Robert Delaunay, gave him the order to create The Snake Charmer in 1907. The younger artist Picasso immediately recognized Rousseau’s brilliance and visited him when he saw one of his paintings being marketed on the streets as a canvas to be worked over. Picasso celebrated Rousseau with a semi-serious, semi-burlesque meal in his Le Bateau-Lavoir studio in 1908.