January 24, 2022
The Sleeping Gypsy Woman (French: La Bohémienne endormie) is an 1897 painting by the French primitive painter Henri Rousseau. The painting was first inserted at the Salon des Indépendants, after which Rousseau unsuccessfully tried to sell it to the mayor of his hometown of Laval. In a letter to him, the artist wrote: I have the honor to address you as a countryman who, being a self-taught artist, would like his hometown to acquire one of his new works. I propose to buy the genre painting "Sleeping Gypsy". A wandering gypsy, a performer of songs to the mandolin, is sleeping deeply, broken by fatigue, next to her is a lying jug (with drinking water inside). Suddenly a lion appears, sniffs her, but does not touch the girl. Everything is bathed in moonlight, a poetic atmosphere reigns. The action takes place in a dry desert. The gypsy is dressed in oriental clothes. I will give you the picture for the sum of 1800-2000 francs, because I would be happy if the memory of one of his sons remained in Laval. In the hope that my proposal will be favorably received, please accept, Mr. Mayor, the assurances of my respect. Henri Rousseau, artist, Rue Vercingetorig, 15, Paris. The letter remained unanswered, and the painting ended up in the private collection of a Parisian coal merchant, where it remained until 1924, when it was noticed by art critic Louis Vauxcelles. In the same year, the art dealer Daniel-Henri Kahnweiler purchased The Sleeping Gypsy despite doubts about its authenticity. The painting was later purchased by art historian Alfred H. Barr, Jr. for the New York Museum of Modern Art.