Henri Rousseau

Henri Rousseau

Birth
Laval, Departement de la Mayenne, Pays de la Loire, France
Death 2 Sep 1910 (aged 66)
Paris, City of Paris, Île-de-France, France
Burial Bagneux, Departement des Hauts-de-Seine, Île-de-France, France
Memorial ID 9772155 · View Source
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Artist. Considered one of the true originals of modern painting. Born in Laval, France, he showed a keen interest in drawing as a child, but his family was poor and he never received art training. In 1863 Rousseau was accused of petty larceny and joined the Army to avoid prison; after his discharge he spent 25 years as a second-class clerk in the French Customs Office. All the while he painted as a hobby and in 1886 two of his canvases were shown at the Salon des Independants in Paris. In 1893, at the age of 49, Rousseau took an early retirement to devote himself to his art. He spent the rest of his life in poverty, supplementing his meager pension by playing the violin on street corners, while his talent was starved on a diet of incomprehension and ridicule. And yet his work was a singular triumph. Ingenuous and often clumsy, Rousseau made up for his technical shortcomings with a brilliant color sense, intuitive feel for visual rhythms, and a naive but extraordinarily fertile imagination. His jungle paintings are especially prized and his "Sleeping Gypsy" (1897) is one of the most famous images in Western Art. Many see Rousseau as a forerunner of Surrealism. Ironically, he had no understanding of or real sympathy for modern trends, and aspired only to emulate the stuffy academics whose dull paintings clogged French salons of the era. When the Paris avant-garde, led by Picasso and Apollinaire, belatedly took up Rousseau's cause in 1908, it was with tongue firmly in cheek. In August 1910 Rousseau cut his leg in an accident at his studio; he could not afford a doctor, and by the time a friend took him to a hospital infection had fatally set in. He was buried in a mass grave for indigents at Bagneux Cemetery. The following year a memorial exhibition at the Salon des Independants brought Rousseau the popular acclaim that had eluded him in life, and his remains were reinterred in an individual plot. His memorial stone (with Apollinaire's epitaph) was placed in 1913.

Bio by: Bobb Edwards


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Bobb Edwards
  • Added: 7 Nov 2004
  • Find A Grave Memorial 9772155
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Henri Rousseau (21 May 1844–2 Sep 1910), Find A Grave Memorial no. 9772155, citing Cimetière de Bagneux, Bagneux, Departement des Hauts-de-Seine, Île-de-France, France ; Maintained by Find A Grave .