Henri Rousseau (French, 1844-1910)
oil on fabric, Framed - h:183.00 w:203.00 d:4.50 cm (h:72 w:79 7/8 d:1 3/4 inches)
Unframed - h:170.00 w:189.50 cm (h:66 7/8 w:74 9/16 inches). Gift of the Hanna Fund 1949.186
Having never ventured outside France, Rousseau derived his jungle scenes from reading travel books and visiting the Paris botanical garden.
He placed this imaginary scene of a tiger attacking a buffalo within a fantastic jungle environment in which botanical accuracy was of little importance (note the bananas growing upside down). Here, sharply outlined hothouse plants are enlarged to fearsome proportions.
Rousseau was working on this painting while imprisoned for fraud in December 1907. Officials granted him an early release to finish it for exhibition at the Salon des Indépendants, where this major composition, one of the artist's largest and most important, appeared in March 1908. A self-taught artist and retired customs inspector, Rousseau was admired by Pablo Picasso and other avant-garde artists for his originality and the naïve purity of his vision.