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Tropical Forest: Battling of Tiger and Buffalo

Tropical Forest: Battling of Tiger and Buffalo by Henri Rousseau
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Artist: Henri Rousseau    Image Code: V03789

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  • Artist: Henri Rousseau

    Henri Rousseau (May 21, 1844-September 2, 1910), a self-taught painter, was part of the French Post-Impressionist movement. Inspired by his everyday surroundings, he was often ridiculed by his contemporaries, but is now accepted as a singular talent. Rousseau is most well-known for his exotic jungle scenes, despite the fact that he never left his home country of France. He was heavily influenced by painters such as Cezanne and Gauguin, who were leading the way in the Primitivist movement. Born in Laval in the Loire Valley, Rousseau worked as a toll collector for most of his life, earning him the nickname “Le Douanier” (meaning, “the customs officer”) from his contemporaries. Though he was otherwise employed, Rousseau’s job allowed him to pursue his passion for painting in his off-hours, eventually allowing him to retire at age 49 to paint full-time. Later in life, Rousseau earned the admiration of fellow artists such as Pablo Picasso and Wassily Kandinksy, and has since been incorporated in the fin-de-siècle artistic canon. 

    View all of Henri Rousseau's work.

  • Artwork Details

    One of his later paintings, Henri Rousseau's Tropical Forest: Battling Tiger and Buffalo is the quintessential example of the artist's jungle scenes. Despite facing criticism, Rousseau painted the jungle scene in 1908, using travel books, oral reports, botanical gardens, dioramas, and taxidermy models as his inspiration. This painting in particular is a great example of how Rousseau blended his own interpretation of primitivism, the movement popularized by his contemporaries such as Henri Matisse and Paul Gauguin, and the slightly abstract, dreamlike quality that is easily read as a precursor to the Surrealist movement. Currently housed in the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg, Russia, the vivid colors and intricate composition of Tropical Forest make it one of Rousseau's most iconic images.