Sunday, January 22, 2012

Rousseau, Henri

La charmeuse de serpents (The Snake Charmer)
Huile sur toile (oil on canvas)
169 × 190 cm
Musée d'Orsay, Paris

"I hate books. They only teach us to talk about things we know nothing about."
Rousseau claimed he had "no teacher other than nature".

Henri Julien Felix Rousseau (1844 - 1910), French painter, was the most celebrated of naïve artists. He is known as Le Douanier (the customs officer) after his place of employment. Ridiculed during his life, he came to be recognized as a self-taught genius whose works are of high artistic quality.
His nickname refers to the job he held with the Paris Customs Office (1871-93), although he never actually rose to the rank of `Douanier' (Customs Officer). He took up painting as a hobby and accepted early retirement in 1893 so he could devote himself to art.

His character was extraordinarily ingenuous and he suffered much ridicule as well as enduring great poverty. However, his faith in his own abilities never wavered. He was a regular contributor to Paris exhibitions, but, during his lifetime, was viewed with amusement and condescension by both the public and fellow artists.
Rousseau was buried in a pauper's grave, but his greatness began to be widely acknowledged soon after his death.