Artist: Henri Rousseau
Title: Sleeping Gypsy
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions of original work: 51 x 79 in. (129.5 x 200.7 cm)
Where to see it: The Museum of Modern Art, New York
About this Work:
Sleeping Gypsy reveals many of Henri Rousseau's gifts, not least of which was his vivid imagination. He never saw a desert or a real lion outside of the zoo, yet created a charming scene containing both and the sleeping title character.
He was very talented at composition, although, at the time, his hard lines and flattish perspectives were often ridiculed. (The future Cubists weren't laughing--they took notes!)
He also paid huge attention to details. Here the lion's hair was painstakingly painted one strand at a time, while the stripes of the gypsy's robe and strings on the mandolin were laid in just as meticulously.
Perhaps Rousseau's greatest gift was his conviction that he deserved to be called an artist. Despite what anyone else thought or said of his work--and most of these things were negative--he believed he could make great art. Time says he did, and that is a lesson for us all.
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