A&A art print: respond and connect: Henri Rousseau. Surprised! (also known as tiger in a tropical storm), 1891.
MAIN VISUAL ART CONCEPTS: Line * Pattern * Movement * Color
PAINTING TECHNIQUE: Rousseau came up with his own method of depicting rain. He painted thin, nearly transparent, light-colored diagonal lines across his entire canvas.
BOTANY: According to Rebecca Alexander, the "Plant Answer Librarian" at the Elisabeth C. Miller Library, University of Washington Botanic Gardens, Rousseau's plants in Surprised! are not specific enough to be identified or classified. She cites one exception: "the tassels over the back end of the tiger resemble Miscanthus, but there's a lot of artistic license going on here! It's tropical-ish. "
ECONOMY: When he was 24 years old, Rousseau began to work for the French government collecting tolls from farmers as they traveled to markets to sell their goods. He kept this job for 25 years, which allowed him time to paint. His friends nicknamed him "Le Douanier" (pronounced Luh DWA-nay), meaning "The Customs Inspector."
LANGUAGE ARTS: Be sure to read the poem, "The Tyger," by English poet William Blake (1757-1827).
BOTANY AND BIOLOGY: Rousseau never visited an actual jungle; he invented all his jungle scenes. He visited botanical gardens to look closely at growing plants and went to natural history museums to study stuffed animals. Rousseau also trained himself by copying art in museums, and some say he derived his tiger from works by Eugene Delacroix.
IDENTIFYING STYLE--PRIMITIVISM AND ORIENTALISM: Rousseau is mostly thought of as a "primitive" (self-taught) painter. His tiger has some similarities to Chinese and Japanese painted and carved tigers. Interestingly, some of Eugene Delacroix's works are also thought to be examples of "Orientalist" Western art.
EARTH SCIENCE: More Americans are killed each year by lightning than by tornadoes or hurricanes. The Merriam-Webster dictionary says lightning is "the flashing of light produced by a discharge of atmospheric electricity from one cloud to another or between a cloud and the earth." Many scientists disagree about the exact causes of lightning, but they do agree that it stems from the differences in positively and negatively charged particles.
ART CONCEPTS IN DESIGN: Rousseau uses analogous colors (ones that are close to each other on the color wheel) red, orange, yellow and green to make the most of his foliage. Note how he seems to abstract the tall grasses into undulating stripes.
ART HISTORY: Rousseau was ridiculed because his painting style indicated a lack of artistic training. One characteristic of his work, the tendency to flatten, or make objects frontally face the viewer, gives his paintings an unnatural appearance. Picasso admired him greatly, however, and hosted a prestigious dinner in Rousseau's honor in 1908.
POETIC EPITAPHS: French poet, Guillame Appolinaire (1880-1918), wrote Rousseau's epitaph. Not long before he died, Rousseau declared to his friend, "You will unfold your literary talent and avenge me for all the insults and abuse I have experienced. " Look online to see if Rousseau's wish was fulfilled.
Caption: Eugene Delacroix (French; 17981863. Tiger and Snake, 1862. Oil on canvas; 13"x 16.25". National Gallery of Art. Corcoran Collection (William A. Clark Collection).
Caption: Henri Rousseau (French; 1844-1910). Surprised (also known as Tiger in a Tropical Storm), 1881. Oil on canvas; 51" x 64". The National Gallery, London. Bought with the aid of a substantial donation from the Hon. Walter H. Annenberg, 1972. Public domain.