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Henri Rousseau

May 21, 1844 - September 2, 1910


Henri Julien Felix Rousseau (May 21, 1844-September 2, 1910) was a French Post-Impressionist painter well known for the peculiar scenes he depicted in his pieces. Before becoming a well-loved artist, he was nicknamed “Le Douanier” or “the customs officer” because job collecting toll money. He often painted in his free time and developed a personal style due to his lack of professional art schooling. At age 49, Rousseau stopped working in his career to paint full-time. While he made several connections with art dealers through his work, this didn’t help him sell many paintings. He had an almost childlike style, often featuring scenes of humans and the jungle with a wildly inaccurate perspective, vivid colors, and an almost dream-like quality. His work, being very non-traditional, was not widely accepted by conservative artists and connoisseurs. He used perspectives that completely opposed naturalism and some scenes that could only exist in one’s imagination. He also incorporated traditional and contemporary artwork that he found inspirational. Although he didn’t sell his artwork, many of his paintings hang in museums today. Two of his most famous pieces, “The Dream” and “The Sleeping Gypsy,” hang in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City today.

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