Loading...

Henri Rousseau

61,384 views

Loading...

Loading...

Rating is available when the video has been rented.
This feature is not available right now. Please try again later.
Published on May 7, 2012

Henri Julien Félix Rousseau (May 21, 1844 -- September 2, 1910) was a French Post-Impressionist painter in the Naive or Primitive manner. He is also known as Le Douanier (the customs officer) after his place of employment. Ridiculed during his life, he came to be recognized as a self-taught genius whose works are of high artistic quality.

He was born in Laval in the Loire Valley into the family of a plumber. He attended Laval High School as a day student and then as a boarder, after his father became a debtor and his parents had to leave the town upon the seizure of their house. He was mediocre in some subjects at the high school but won prizes for drawing and music.He worked for a lawyer and studied law, but "attempted a small perjury and sought refuge in the army," serving for four years, starting in 1863. With his father's death, Rousseau moved to Paris in 1868 to support his widowed mother as a government employee. With his new job in hand, in 1869 he started a relationship with a cabinetmaker's daughter, Clémence Boitard, who became his first wife and he wrote a waltz bearing her name. They went on to have nine children but tuberculosis was rife at the time and seven died at an early age.In 1871, he was promoted to the toll collector's office in Paris as a tax collector. He started painting seriously in his early forties, and by age 49 he retired from his job to work on his art.His wife died in 1888 and he later remarried.

Rousseau claimed he had "no teacher other than nature", although he admitted he had received "some advice" from two established Academic painters, Félix Auguste-Clément and Jean-Léon Gérôme. Essentially he was self-taught and is considered to be a naive or primitive painter.

His best known paintings depict jungle scenes, even though he never left France or saw a jungle. Stories spread by admirers that his army service included the French expeditionary force to Mexico are unfounded. His inspiration came from illustrated books and the botanical gardens in Paris, as well as tableaux of "taxidermified" wild animals. He had also met soldiers, during his term of service, who had survived the French expedition to Mexico and listened to their stories of the subtropical country they had encountered. To the critic Arsène Alexandre, he described his frequent visits to the Jardin des Plantes: "When I go into the glass houses and I see the strange plants of exotic lands, it seems to me that I enter into a dream."

Along with his exotic scenes there was a concurrent output of smaller topographical images of the city and its suburbs.

He claimed to have invented a new genre of portrait landscape, which he achieved by starting a painting with a view such as a favourite part of the city, and then depicting a person in the foreground.

Rousseau's work exerted an "extensive influence ... on several generations of vanguard artists, starting with Picasso and including Léger, Beckmann and the Surrealists," according to Roberta Smith, an art critic writing in The New York Times. "Beckmann's amazing self-portraits, for example, descend from the brusque, concentrated forms of Rousseau's portrait of the writer Pierre Loti"

In 1911 a retrospective exhibition of Rousseau's works was shown at the Salon des Indépendants. His paintings were also shown at the first Blaue Reiter exhibition.

Two major museum exhibitions of his work were held in 1984-85 (in Paris, at the Grand Palais; and in New York, at the Museum of Modern Art) and in 2001 (Tübingen, Germany). "These efforts countered the persona of the humble, oblivious naïf by detailing his assured single-mindedness and tracked the extensive influence his work exerted on several generations of vanguard artists," critic Roberta Smith wrote in a review of a later exhibition.

A major exhibition of his work, "Henri Rousseau: Jungles in Paris," was shown at Tate Modern from November 2005 for four months, organised by the Tate and the Musée d'Orsay, where the show also appeared. The exhibition, encompassing 49 of his paintings, was on display at the National Gallery of Art in Washington from July 16--October 15, 2006.

A major collection of Rousseau's work were shown at The Grand Palais from March 15 to June 19, 2006.
[from Wikipedia]

Music by James Horner

Loading...

Advertisement
When autoplay is enabled, a suggested video will automatically play next.

Up next


to add this to Watch Later

Add to

Loading playlists...