Henri Julien Felix Rosseau , born May 21, 1844 in France was a well known self taught painter. He was born into the family of a plumber and he was forced to work there as a small boy. Rousseau attended high school during the day and at night would be a boarder at night. After high school he worked for a lawyer and studied law, but “attempted a small perjury and sought refuge in the army(4). Henri than served four years . When his father died , Rosseau went back to France to help his mom and than got a government job. While there he got married to his landlords 15 year old daughter when he was 24. Together they had seven children but unfortunately only one survived. Rousseau paintings weren’t extremely popular but over the years he attained many fans. Picasso was also a fan of his work and even hosted an event event in honor of him. For Rousseau his career never traveled out of France. I chose the piece , “The Dream”. The Dream was created in 1910 , on a large oil painted canvas. This painting was one of 25 of Rosseau jungle theme paintings. (2)It is currently showing in the Moma , which was a donated piece.(3) The female lying on a divan was his Polish mistress , Yadwigha. Some people didn’t understand the painting so he wrote a poem for it , which was originally in French.
Yadwigha in a beautiful dream
Having fallen gently to sleep
Heard the sounds of a reed instrument
Played by a well-intentioned [snake] charmer.
As the moon reflected
On the rivers [or flowers], the verdant trees,
The wild snakes lend an ear
To the joyous tunes of the instrument (1)
Rousseau deciding to paint his mistress in a jungle which he was inspired from by literature , makes it aesthetically pleasing. Portraying something real in his perspective and completely ignoring traditional styles also fits the theme of modernism.Seeing the painting in MoMa was one thing and actually reading up on it was something else. Finding out that there was in fact a poem to better on understand the painting was shocking. Most times you are left to see a painting and to make your own conclusions but that wasn’t the case here. Also that he was brave enough to paint his mistress when he was in fact married to his second wife. A daring man he was. Additionally it amazed me that this was a painting created by him the same year he died. When I first saw it , it caught eye by how huge it was. It was so vibrant and beautiful to me. Mostly because its as if the woman was at peace , at home in the jungle. The animals are just in the background , sort of in the shadows. Reminds me of man at peace with nature. The nudity as well caught me , I think she has an gorgeous body. I truly enjoyed it , I wouldn’t mind having a painting like this hung in my bathroom.