Rousseau, Henri

Article

January 24, 2022

Henri Julien Felice Rousseau (French Henri Julien Félix Rousseau, nicknamed Le Douanier, "Customs Officer"; May 21, 1844, Laval, Mayenne - September 2, 1910, Paris) - French artist, one of the most famous representatives of naive art or primitivism.

Biography

Henri Rousseau was born on May 21, 1844 in the town of Laval (Mayenne department), in the family of a tinsmith. Without graduating from high school, he entered the military service, where he spent four years. He was released from further service after the death of his father in order to be able to financially support his widowed mother. In 1868 he settled in Paris, where he received a position in the civil service. The following year he married Clemence Boitard, the daughter of a carpenter. Since 1871, he served as a tax inspector in the excise office of Paris, for which he received the nickname "Customs Officer". He began to paint on his own already at a mature age, around 1880. In 1884 he received official permission to copy paintings in the Louvre. He first showed his own works to the general public in 1886, participating in the Salon des Indépendants, where novice authors exhibited who did not meet the requirements of the style and theme of the official Paris Salon. Over the next seven years, Rousseau, who divided his time between service, family and painting, exhibited about 20 paintings at the Salon des Indépendants. However, his work at that time remained largely unnoticed by the public, and critics caused only constant ridicule. Rousseau's wife, Clemence, died in 1888 after a long illness, and in the next few years he lost the rest of his family, with the exception of one daughter, whom he sent to live with relatives. In 1893 he left the civil service, fully concentrating on creative work. Shortly thereafter, Rousseau met Alfred Jarry, a talented young poet, who was struck by the unusualness of his work and brought him into contact with a circle of intellectuals associated with the avant-garde magazine Mercure de France. It was on the pages of this edition that the first positive review of Rousseau's work appeared. In 1899 he entered into a second marriage, but was widowed again in 1903. He led a modest life in an inexpensive arrondissement in Paris, giving drawing lessons at home. A break in attitude

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