Picasso And Henri Rousseau: How Did The Artists Meet?

Charlotte Miller

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Picasso And Henri Rousseau: How Did The Artists Meet?

Despite coming from different backgrounds, Pablo Picasso and Henri Rousseau were close friends during their time. Of course, they were both accomplished artists. Still, before the meeting, their artistic practices were completely different, with Picasso’s style being well-known for its “modern” aesthetic and Rousseau receiving harsh criticism for his “primitive” aesthetic. Despite this, they continued to benefit from one another’s knowledge and, eventually, developed a strong friendship.

Who are these artists?

French Post-Impressionist painter Henri Rousseau was self-taught and didn’t start focusing on his painting seriously until he was in his forties. After serving in the military, Rousseau relocated to Paris to work as a federal tax collector and painter on the side to help his widowed mother. By his first marriage, he had six children, but only one of them reached maturity. 

He had the opportunity to display his work in the prestigious Salon Des Independants early in his career, but he was not regarded as one of their well-known creators. Instead, he was particularly well-known for his vivid tropical artworks that depicted amazing jungle scenes.

The majority of Pablo Picasso’s adult life was spent in France. He was a Spanish artist, sculptor, painter, ceramicist, and theatrical designer. Widely considered as ranking among the most significant 20th-century artists, Picasso pioneered the Cubists and masterminded the sculpture creators and the collage, besides testing out multiple painting endeavors; who’d doubt his privileged status? 

Early on, Picasso showed great skill in the arts. Throughout his youth and teens, he painted in a realistic style. His style evolved over the first ten years of the twentieth century as he explored many different theories, methods, and concepts. 

The somewhat older artist Matisse’s Fauvist works inspired Picasso to experiment with more radical forms after 1906, starting a productive competition between the two. Critics later frequently compare them as the forerunners of modern art.

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Their artistic influences

Despite being shunned by the Paris art establishment, world-famous painter Henri Rousseau had caught Picasso and his circle of friends’ attention. They saw a true voice in Rousseau’s work far more important than what was taught in art schools.

These artists sought motivation for their own ideas abroad, united by a common frustration with Western tradition. Rousseau drew inspiration for his imagined jungle settings from places like popular publications and trips to the zoo and botanical garden in Paris. The African sculptures and masks heavily influenced Picasso and his contemporaries, and several of them were acquired. 

The development of Cubism was greatly influenced by this fresh understanding of African culture that colonial channels brought to France. An art lover should learn all about Henri Rousseau’s art to try and understand why Picasso fell in love with Rousseau’s art. Of course, there is a long list of Henri Rousseau’s Jungle paintings to look at, but it is worth the time of an art lover.

How did these genius artists meet?

It’s reported that when Picasso came upon one of Rousseau’s canvases being auctioned as a used canvas, he fell in love with the picture. Over time, they became close friends who supported one another’s creative endeavors. 

Picasso decided to host a luncheon in 1908 in his friend’s honor that combined comedy and admiration. Many prominent persons were at the party, including Juan Gris and Gertrude Stein.

 It started with a formal dinner and became an open house celebration at Picasso’s workspace. It was an all-night spectacular that continues today as a tale that is enthusiastically and somewhat exaggerated by successive generations of artists.

Picasso was amazed at Henri Rousseau’s jungle paintings. He cited Rousseau’s work’s raw and sincere elements as among the reasons he liked it. Despite never having traveled outside France, Rousseau became famous for the exotic vistas he painted. 

He became well-known for his jungle-themed works, such as Tiger in a Tropical Storm. Henri Rousseau’s paintings like The Carnival Evening and The Dream display his mystical side.

Each of these was created to take the viewer to a location just beyond their own imagination. Picasso praised painter Henri Rousseau for his effect on future painters because he saw the brilliance in his aims. 

The Banquet

Everyone enjoyed themselves at the meal, particularly Picasso and Rousseau. To transport Henri Rousseau down the Montmartre, a cab was called. The severely drunk painter decided it would be appropriate to address Picasso briefly before leaving.

The old painter’s passionate confession, which served as the evening’s comedic punch line, made everyone laugh out loud. Picasso would chuckle along with everyone else at the memory of Henri Rousseau, telling him, “You and I are the two most significant painters of the era – you in the Egyptian style, and I in the contemporary one.”

 Picasso would later assert that the meal he hosted one crazy night in 1908 for the self-taught artist known only as the douanier was nothing more than a joke. Unfortunately, art critics are still unsure how to interpret this lovely and crazy narrative today.

 In addition to the masterpieces Picasso acquired from Degas, Matisse, and Cézanne, as well as his masks from the African Continent and the New Hebrides, you may view Rousseau’s paintings that Picasso possessed by visiting the Musée Picasso. One of them is a portrait of a large woman standing regally behind a curtain.

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Henri Rousseau himself got the most significant benefits from the evening at Picasso’s. What began as an extravagant joke by the newly wealthy Picasso converted Rousseau into a comprehensive painter who began to be respected not just by the post-Impressionists who were becoming more and more significant but also by every other individual associated with the art world.

Henri Rousseau established himself as a renowned artist just two years before his passing, gaining a sizable following that included several academically trained artists. Rousseau’s desire to be in the history books was a complete success.