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Tiger in a Tropical Storm

Tiger in a Tropical Storm by Henri Rousseau
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Artist: Henri Rousseau    Image Code: V03778

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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

    Henri Rousseau painted Tiger in a Tropical Storm, or Surprised! in 1891, and after it was refused by the jury for the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture, he exhibited it at the Salon des Independants. The painting brought him mixed reviews and a fair amount of recognition, but was often dismissed as childish, though this was eventually realized to be Rousseau's signature naive style. Rousseau found inspiration in Eugene Delacroix's 1862 painting of a tiger, as well as in travel books and botanical gardens for the jungle landscape. Although he claimed otherwise, Rousseau never left France in his lifetime, and was thus left to imagine the tropical jungles that were so often the subjects of his paintings. Surprised! is one of the best known of Rousseau's jungle compositions, and currently resides in the National Gallery in London.