Find Art Search

Search the gallery

Henri Rousseau

Henri Rousseau: The Naïve Master of the Modern Jungle

Henri Julien Félix Rousseau (1844-1910) was a French Post-Impressionist painter known for his distinctive style, characterised by richly coloured and meticulously detailed scenes of exotic landscapes and jungle environments. Born in Laval, France, Rousseau came from a humble background and worked as a customs officer in Paris, earning him the nickname "Le Douanier" (the customs officer).

Rousseau was largely self-taught, beginning to paint seriously in his early forties. Critics initially ridiculed his works, seeing his naive style as amateurish. However, he continued to exhibit regularly at the Salon des Indépendants, where his unique vision gradually gained recognition.

Among his most famous works are "The Sleeping Gypsy" (1897) and "The Dream" (1910). His jungle scenes, such as "Tiger in a Tropical Storm (Surprised!)" (1891) and "The Hungry Lion Throws Itself on the Antelope" (1905), although inspired by visits to botanical gardens and the Paris zoo rather than actual travels, are celebrated for their vivid imagination and dreamlike quality.

Rousseau had a lasting impact, inspiring numerous cutting-edge artists of the early 20th century, such as Pablo Picasso, who paid tribute to him with a banquet in 1908. Although he faced challenges in gaining recognition during his lifetime, Rousseau is now hailed as a trailblazing figure in modern art, admired for his skill in blending childlike simplicity with a refined sense of composition and storytelling.

Discover More Unique Art to Buy Online

Explore our main art collections to find perfect original paintings, limited edition signed prints, open-edition prints, wall art prints and posters & artist designed gifts.