Masterpiece: Surprised! Storm in the Forest Artist: Henri Rousseau (On-ree Roo-so) (1844-1910) Artist Biography Concept: Mixed Media Lesson: Jungle Scene and Leaf Stamping ______ Rousseau was born in Laval, France in 1844. He was the third child of a tin-ware merchant and his wife. Rousseau wanted to be an artist at a very early age. When he was nine years old, his father lost all that they had through bad business speculations. The family was forced to move and Rousseau had to begin working when he was young. He eventually joined the army and served for seven years. When he returned home he married an 18-year-old seamstress and began his career as a civil servant working in a tollbooth. He and his wife had five children. Rousseau continued to paint as a hobby and since his job allowed much spare time he would draw the surrounding scenery while the other workers played cards. On his days off he would paint pictures from his drawings. Rousseau was not formally trained in art. But he was an ambitious painter and many times said he had the technique of a 6 year old. Rousseau painted many wildlife scenes. He said he imagined faraway countries where he had never been. He used to visit the botanical gardens and the zoo in Paris to help him with the animals and vegetation. Rousseau received very little money for his work while he was alive. Picasso, a famous painter at the time, bought some of Rousseau’s paintings. He must have really liked them because he kept them in his personal collection throughout his life. Rousseau would supplement his income by playing the violin on street corners in Paris. Rousseau died in 1910 at the age of 66 from blood poisoning. After he died he finally achieved the respect as an artist that he sought his whole life. After Rousseau's retirement in 1893, he supplemented his small pension with part- time jobs and work such as playing a violin in the streets. He also worked briefly at Le petit journal, where he produced a number of its covers. Henri Rousseau died September 2nd 1910 in the Hospital Necker in Paris. Seven artist friends stood at his grave: the painters Paul Signac and Otiz de Zarate, Robert Delaunay and his wife Sonia, the sculptor Brancusi, Rousseau's landlord Armand Queval and Guillaume Apollinaire who wrote the epitaph Brancusi put on the tombstone: We salute you Gentle Rousseau you can hear us Delaunay his wife Monsieur Queval and myself Let our luggage pass duty free through the gates of heaven We will bring you brushes paints and canvas That you may spend your sacred leisure in the light of truth Painting as you once did my portrait Facing the stars Henri Julien Félix Rousseau (May 21, 1844 – September 2, 1910) Was a French Post-Impressionist painter in the Naive or Primitive manner. He was also known as Le Douanier (the customs officer), a humorous description of his occupation as a tax collector. Ridiculed during his life, he came to be recognized as a self-taught genius whose works are of high artistic quality. Henri Rousseau was born in Laval, Mayenne in the Loire Valley into the family of a tinsmith. He was mediocre in some subjects at the high school but won prizes for drawing and music. He worked for a lawyer and studied law, but "attempted a small perjury and sought refuge in the army," serving for four years, starting in 1863. In 1868 he married Clémence Boitard, his landlord's 15 year-old daughter, with whom he had six children (only one survived). In 1871, he was appointed as a collector of the octroi tax on goods entering Paris. He started painting seriously in his early forties, and by age 49 he retired from his job to work on his art full time. Rousseau claimed he had "no teacher other than nature", although he admitted he had received "some advice" from two established Academic painters, Félix Auguste-Clément and Jean-Léon Gérôme. Essentially he was self-taught and is considered to be a naive or primitive painter. Rousseau painted many wildlife scenes He said he imagined faraway countries where he had never been. He used the botanical gardens and the Paris zoo to help him with the animals and vegetation. He also played the violin on street corners in Paris to earn extra money He claimed to have invented a new genre of portrait landscape, which he achieved by starting a painting with a view such as a favorite part of the city, and then depicting a person in the foreground.
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