We ship worldwide 🌎
Carré d'artistes - Le blog
Inspirations, recent discoveries and world art events and galleries.
The art minute

Henri Rousseau, the customs officer who became a master

- 14/05/2021
henri rousseau customs officer


Henri Rousseau opened his eyes on the world in 1844 in Laval.
Born into a modest family, the son of a tinsmith tries unsuccessfully to law school before committing in the 51th Infantry Regiment of Angers to escape the reformatory after a theft.
Released by the army in 1868, he came to Paris where, after working as bailiffs clerk, he entered the Grant on the banks of the Seine.
This customs agency then collects taxes on goods sailing in the capital by the river.
Solitaire by force of circumstance, his two wives and eight of his nine children, Henri Rousseau is approaching forty years old when it comes to painting.




Without any artistic training or academic knowledge, Henri Rousseau became familiar with Art in the halls of the Louvre, where he obtained a copyist card.
When he traces his first brush strokes, he began producing artworks with high exotic content.

jungle paintings henri rousseau

Although he never really left Paris, his paintings mostly represent exuberant tropical jungles which are often staged animal fights between a beast and its prey.
Inspired by what he saw during his excursions in « Jardins des Plantes » and « Jardin d'Acclimation » in Paris or even in the colorful pages of botanical journals of his time, Henri Rousseau invents and dreams a world where he has been.



In 1886, he appears for the first time at the Salon des Independants and exhibits four of his paintings.
Far from unanimous, Rousseau is critiziced for his frozen characters, his lack of perspective, his vivid colors, his awkwardness and childish naivete.
Called an amateur painter, a child or an insane, criticism even mock himself by using the nickname affectionately given by his friend and writer Alfred Jarry: Le Douanier Rousseau.
Far from being discouraged, he persisted, became friends with Robert Delaunay, Guillaume Apollinaire and Pablo Picasso and continues his exhibitions at the Salon des Independents until he catches the eye of avant-garde painters.



At the end of his life, le Douanier Rousseau starts receiving positive reviews and it was after his death in 1910, at the age of 66 years, that his work was considered the founder of naive Art in particular.

guerre henri rousseau

This approach of painting is a style that does not meet the academic standards and the pictorial research of the time.
His colorful artworks also inspired the Fauvist as Derain and Matisse, his primitive faces were a based to surrealist and even Kandinsky, the father of abstraction, says about him :
"Henri Rousseau opened the way to new opportunities for simplicity."

Henri Rousseau or how a modest customs officer inspired the great masters of modern art.


From Argentina, Gustavo Ortiz fell into the world of art following a school trip where he attended a retrospective of the Catalan surrealist Joan Miró.
After studying art, he flies to Santiago where, for 7 years, he expresses his creative desires in his paintings.
An experience long enough to launch in Europe where he flew to London to pursue his artistic adventure.
His style is characterized by the force of colors, the clearness of edges and the use of collage as a main technique.
He paints reduced landscapes, populated by disproportionate characters or objects.
His paintings reveal elements of naïve Art punctuated with unexpected surrealism.



Everything you always wanted to know about the art market but were afraid to ask!

The art market often appears to be a domain reserved for a privileged few...
This is not true: accessible to all, the art market is only waiting for its new collectors.

For those who still have a doubt :
Here are the answers to the questions commonly asked!

What is a work of art?
What is the purpose of art?
What is the purpose of a certificate of authenticity?
What should you look out for when buying a work of art?

download the guide



Subscribe to our newsletter to receive our latest articles and news!

By creating an account, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

Unique art for...

We use cookies to give you the best shopping experience. If you continue to use our services, we will assume that you agree to the use of such cookies. Find out more about cookies and how to refuse them.