Surprised!

Henri Rousseau, Surprised!, 1891
Henri Rousseau, Surprised!, 1891

I’m going to show this to my small class of little girls tomorrow. We are going to draw a pretty picture of tulips and a butterfly, so this ought to be a nice contrast. I might mention mood. The mood of this painting is wild, surprising, frantic, fast, dangerous. The mood of our tulips and butterfly is calm and composed. I might also mention that Rousseau had never been to a jungle and some of his “jungle plants” are actually houseplants he used as models. It might seem like cheating to some artists. It might seem unreal to others. To Rousseau, it was creating a scene from his imagination in the only way he knew how. All is fair in art. (As long as you sign your own name at the bottom.)

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