Was Henri Rousseau’s Work Re-Discovered When One of His Paintings Was Purchased for Its Canvas Alone?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends related to paintings and painters and whether they are true or false.

PAINTING URBAN LEGEND: Pablo Picasso discovered the work of Henri Rousseau by purchasing one of his works that was being sold for the canvas, not the painting itself.

Henri Rousseau was a Post-Impressionist painter in France during the late 19th and early 20th Century who did not have very much success with his work most of his life.

His nickname was Le Douanier, which means “the customs officer,” which happened to be his main occupation.

A self-taught artist, Rousseau mostly drew scenes of the jungle.

His work had a unique, flat feel to it that was regarded at the time as being child-like.

Here’s a piece of his from 1905 (click to enlarge)…

During the early 20th Century, though, a new wave of artists were making the scene, people like the aforementioned Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso.

They viewed art quite a bit differently than most of the established art scene of the late 1890s/early 1900s, so in Rousseau, rather than seeing a childish painter, Picasso saw a non-conformist unsullied by academia, which was something that Picasso himself was rebelling from at the time (1908).

In addition, Picasso was interested in “primitive” artwork, art from Africa – Rousseau was also influenced by African art with his jungle work.

In any event, the tale of HOW Picasso came across Rousseau is quite amazing.
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