Henri Rousseau


Artist Biography:

The French Post-Impressionist painter Henri Rousseau was born in Laval, France in 1844. He is considered today to be one of the most important painters in the naïve or primitive manner of the 19th century. Rousseau started his career as the assistant to a lawyer but was forced to flee and join the army when he was caught out in what has been described as “a small perjury”. When his father died in 1868, Rousseau moved to Paris to support his mother. There he married his first wife, Clemence Boitard, with whom he had six children, although only one survived infancy. By 1871 he had been promoted to become a tax collector in Paris, but began to paint and, at the age of 49, he retired from his post to become a professional artist. Rousseau’s best-known paintings depict jungle scenes, even though he never left France or saw a jungle. Towards the end of his life, Rousseau attracted considerable support from some of the great artistic names of the turn of the 20th century, including Felix Vallotton and Pablo Picasso, who held a banquet in his honour in 1908. Rousseau exhibited his final painting, ‘The Dream’, in March 1910, at the Salon des Independants and died later that year.

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