Henri Rousseau was born in Laval, France on May 21, 1844 and died on September 2, 1910. Henri grew up in a middle-class family. During his lifetime, as a boy he worked in his father’s plumbing business. He worked for a lawyer then moved to Paris in 1868, where he began working as a toll collector at the entrance to the city. He was called “Le Douanier”, he also earned some money as a street musician.

He began taking painting seriously in his early forties. At the age of 49, he retired from his job and worked as a full-time painter. Perhaps it was the fact that he didn’t study art that made him have his own unique perspective and style. What most inspired him to draw was the jungle. Although Rousseau never went to a jungle, he visited the Zoo and Botanical Gardens in Paris, which helped him, widen his imagination.

Picasso bought recognition to Rousseau’s work. In 1884, he received a permit to sketch in the national museums, such as the Louvre. From 1886, every year, at the Salon des Independants, Rousseau would exhibit his works along with Georges Seurat, Armand Guillaumin, Odilon Redon, Paul Signac, Paul Gauguin, and others.

One of his still life works is the oil on canvas painting. Due to his lack of academic training, he had incorrect proportions, one-point perspective, and often used sharp unnatural colors. In his painting, he used contour lines to define the forms. He used darker shades to emphasize the contour. He used darker and lighter shades to emphasize on the object’s depth. He created 3D by giving it shades (bright/shimmery parts and dark/gloomy parts), showing dimensions, and having some objects overlap others. The main methods used in his paintings are overlapping and use of shades.

By Rozaline Beshay