Henri Rousseau


Henri Rousseau (1844-1910), an entirely self-taught primitive artist, was the son of a tinker and joined the French army as a saxophinist. After taking part in the Franco-Prussian war, he was rewarded with the minor post of a customs official, and with the small pension it provided was able to support himself as he painted. He also gave music and elocution lessons. His first exhibition, in 1885, attracted Gaugin, Pissarro, and others, and he was encouraged to exhibit with the Independents from 1886 onwards. He worked on his paintings "like an embroiderer", with careful composition and the "candour of a wise child". Rousseau’s paintings of jungle scenes with tigers and other wild animals are popular prints for kids of all ages.

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