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Henri Rousseau: The self-taught genius painter who was once mocked and humiliated.

Updated: Jun 6, 2020

by Alexander Wong


Rousseau thrilled the art world with his naive and almost psychedelic visions of exotic jungles...


The Dream, 1910, Henri Rousseau

Henri Rousseau, (1844-1910), is a French Post-Impressionist painter, following the Naive art. When he was still alive, he was mocked and humiliated by his peers for being a self-taught artist. His paintings were judged as unbalanced, lack of academic complexity, too naive and too honest.


Rousseau wished to become a true painter, he believed that his work was realistic and valuable. However, very long after he died, realist painters appeared and praised the value of his artworks. The greatest artist, Picasso, was the one who made the art World pay attention to Henri Rousseau by holding a party in 1908 to honor him.


The characteristic of Rousseau's paintings is that he usually exaggerates the size and color of leaves and flowers, creating a magical scenery, a dream-like world of fantastic plants and imaginary animals. By looking at Rousseau's paintings, the audience would realize the subtlety hidden beauty in the painting. Such a beauty that is hidden under a unique, unobtrusive painting technique. It can be said that Henri Rousseau is one of the most talented artists in modern art that make people curious about.


The Hungry Lion - Digital Remastered Edition - a painting by Henri Rousseau, which was once very controversial and mocked by critics when it was first displayed at Salon d'Automne in 1905.


Rousseau's "Hungry Lion" used to be controversial and mocked by critics when it was first displayed at Salon d'Automne in 1905. The use of colors in the painting was very interesting and unique. We can see many different green tones and black that describe the density of a forest. In the distance, there is a part of the sun rising. The center is a lion crushing a deer. The combination really allows us to focus on the narration, yet still pay enough attention to the beautiful decorative background.


Henri Rousseau is such an artist for the young generation to learn and follow. First and foremost, he is a self-taught artist. And secondly, no matter how he was humiliated, he never gave up. He had persistently pursued his dream and that created a signature style influencing the modernism.


The Sleeping Gypsy - Digital Remastered Edition - a painting by Henri Rousseau.


Sometimes, I wonder if the talented Rousseau was well-educated, would modern art be developed as it is today. Personally, I think Rousseau is such a role model that inspires myself and many young other artists in modern days. Just think about it, there are so many talented artists out there who are not accessible to education. They are usually freelancers and self-taught artists. Yet, nothing could ever stop them from creating, thriving, and succeeding. Rousseau is a living proof for a self-taught artist showing that formal education is not necessarily the only way for your future success, but the nurtured genuine talent and passion inside you that make you shine. We can always create amazing things if we persistently try hard enough and have faith in ourselves.


Exotic Landscape, 1908, Henri Rousseau.




Video Credits

Based on the painting : "The Dream" - Henri Rousseau knows as Le Douanier

Written and Directed by - Nicolas Autheman

Original Music - Fabien Bourdier

Coproduction - ARTE France - Les Films du Tambour de Soie


Hashtag: #Henrirousseau #Modernism #Art #Blogging #Wixblog


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