1891   SEVENTH SALON des INDEPENDANTS  (March 19 – April 27, 1891)

Surprised! (Tiger in a Tropical Storm) | Henri Rousseau's first jungle painting | entered in the 1891 Salon of the Independents, Paris | courtesy of The National Gallery, London

Surprised! (Tiger in a Tropical Storm) | Henri Rousseau’s first jungle painting | entered in the 1891 Salon of the Independents, Paris | courtesy of The National Gallery, London

Henri came to the 7th Salon with 7 paintings (including 3 portraits). The painting that received the most attention was his first jungle scene, Surprised/ Tiger in a Tropical Storm. Keep in mind that the only jungle Henri had ever seen was in a book or magazine. He was painting in an apartment in the middle of Paris. The closest he ever came to a jungle was when he went to see the wild animals and exotic plants at the Jardin des Plantes or the Jardin d’Acclimatation.

Amidst the laughing and scorn, Henri received some genuine praise for his jungle scene. Felix Vallatton had moved from Switzerland to Paris to study art. At age 25 he was already becoming a noteworthy artist and art critic. He reported the following:
“Monsieur Rousseau becomes more and more astonishing each year, but he commands attention and, in any event, is earning a nice little reputation and having his share of success: people flock around his submissions and one can hear the sound of laughter.  In addition he is a terrible neighbor, as he crushes everything else.  His tiger surprising its prey ought not to be missed;  it is the alpha and omega of painting  .   .   .   . As a matter of fact, not everyone laughs, and some who begin to do so are quickly brought up short.  There is always something beautiful about seeing a faith, any faith, so pitilessly expressed.  For my part, I have a sincere esteem for such efforts, and I would a hundred times rather them than the deplorable mistakes nearby (Le Journal suisse, March 25, 1891).” [Henri Rousseau, The Museum of Modern Art, NY, 1985, p.109] Another art critic in Le National said of Rousseau, “A simple customs man or employee of the Customs Office, whose fiscal occupations cannot extinguish his artistic instincts.  His is the purest success of this exhibit.  .  .  .” [le Pichon, p. 256]

It is true that Henri had borrowed his tiger from artist Eugene Delacroix [d.1863], but the unusual composition and almost everything else was uniquely his own. In the art of using lush colors, Rousseau was at the head of his class. The jungle scenes would become his forte. I believe that if he would have continued with the jungle scenes, the success he achieved in the last years of his life would have come much sooner.  But for some reason he did not paint his next jungle scene, The Struggle For Life, until the 14th Salon in 1898. (The painting is lost ?)  When he painted his next exotic scene in 1904, Scouts Attacked by a Tiger, visitors at the Salon had to force their way through a crowd to see his paintings.

Rousseau’s paintings did not bring him much income. It is reported that at some later time the art dealer, Ambroise Vollard, paid a total of only 190 francs for three of Rousseau’s paintings, including Surprised. [Henri Rousseau, Jungles in Paris, p.142, edited by Frances Morris and Christopher Green, 2005]  The National Gallery (London) states that Surprised was bought “with the aid of a substantial donation from the Hon. Walter H. Annenberg, 1972.”

 The 7th Salon des Independants, 1891,  is also noteworthy because Georges Seurat’s last painting, The Circuswas entered in this salon 10 days before his death  at age 31. Georges Seurat was one of the founders of  the Salon des Independants.

The Circus,  by Georges Seurat |entered in the 7th Salon des Independants, 1891, 10 days before his death (age 31) |courtesy of Musée d'Orsay, Paris

The Circus, by Georges Seurat |entered in the 7th Salon des Independants, 1891, 10 days before his death (age 31) |courtesy of Musée d’Orsay, Paris

1892 EIGHTH SALON of the INDEPENDENTS (March 17-April 27)
Henri was still working full-time for the Paris Customs Office. I believe that Henri and his 2 children were still living at 135 Rue de Sevres in Paris. On April 27, his young son, also named Henri, would become a teenager, age 13. His daughter, Julia, would be “sweet 16” on June 11.

Henri’s most noteworthy painting at the 1892 Salon was A Centennial of Independence, depicting the celebration of 100 years since the beginning of the French Republic. Henri was proud to be a Frenchman and a republican. A large national celebration was planned for September 22 that year. Henri was very pleased with the 62 different colors he had mixed to paint the Chinese lanterns.He was confident that his painting of the celebration would be well-received.

A Centennial of Independence | Henri Rousseau |1892 | celebrating 100 years since the beginning of the French Republic | courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Museum

A Centennial of Independence | Henri Rousseau |1892 | celebrating 100 years since the beginning of the French Republic | courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Museum

Another of Henri’s paintings which he took to the Salon was a View of the Grenelle Bridge painted in the winter of 1891-1892.

View of the Grenelle Bridge (Trocadero) | Henri Rousseau | 1892 Salon of the Independents

View of the Grenelle Bridge (Trocadero) | Henri Rousseau | 1892 Salon of the Independents

At the Salon, we might say that Henri was “the life of the party.” Every year he received more attention. The visitors wanted to see the Rousseaus. Critics delighted in publishing their comments in the newspapers. The Salon had no sooner opened when Arsene Alexandre hurried to write in Paris that Rousseau’s art would make nice targets at a shooting gallery. Some mocked Rousseau; some noted improvement; but he was getting noticed, and that was better than being ignored.

NEXT: PART  14 |  Looking for Love in Paris | 1893 | Moving to Montparnasse GO TO PART 14

 
1. The Story of a Man determined to be one of the Greatest Painters in France GO TO PART 1
2. Born in FRANCE|Kings & Castles|Revolution|Napoleon|Victor Hugo GO TO PART 2
3. Henri Rousseau | His Family and Childhood GO TO PART 3
4. Henri Rousseau | SOLDIER BOY GO TO PART 4
6: Henri Rousseau | Sunday Painter | Love and Life in Paris GO TO PART 6
7. Henri Rousseau | Six Children Died / Only Julia Lived Past Age 18. GO TO PART 7
8. Henri Rousseau | Paris Customs Office (The Douanier) | Painting on the Job GO TO PART 8
9. Henri Rousseau | 1884 – not good enough | The French Art Salons GO TO PART 9
10. Henri Rousseau | 1885 Debut | 1886 A Carnival Evening GO TO CHAPTER 10
11. Henri Rousseau | Adieu, Mon Cher Amour. GO TO PART 11
12. Henri Rousseau | 1889 World’s Fair GO TO PART 12
14. Henri Rousseau | Looking for Love in Paris | 1893 | Moving to Montparnasse GO TO PART 14
15. Henri Rousseau | full-time painter | “War” in 1894 | Julia: “Au revoir, papa” GO TO PART 15
16. Henri Rousseau | Ambroise Vollard – the art dealer GO TO PART 16
17. Henri Rousseau | Alfred Jarry | More on “War”| Paul Gauguin GO to PART 17
18. Henri Rousseau | 1895 Paintings |short Autobiography GO TO PART 18

Enfant de Fleur: Authentic, Unretouched Portrait by Henri Rousseau: GO TO PORTRAIT
Enfant de Fleur/Flower Child: Child Portraits Compared: GO TO CHILD PORTRAITS
Enfant de Fleur: Is Flower Child his granddaughter ? GO TO GRANDDAUGHTER
Enfant de Fleur/Flower Child: Fine Art Investment Opportunity GO TO OPPORTUNITY
Henri Rousseau: Paintings in Museums Around the World GO TO MUSEUMS
Contact Page GO TO CONTACT PAGE

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