Un bois tropical, combat du tigre et du taureau (1908-1909)

Rousseau, Henri (1844-1910)

Un bois tropical, combat du tigre et du taureau (In a Tropical Forest. Struggle between Tiger and Bull)
Oil on canvas, 46 x 55 cm
Hermitage MuseumSaint Petersburg

Henri Rousseau acquired the nickname “Douanier” (“Customs Officer”) because from 1871 he worked as a tax inspector in the state’s excise department in Paris. He took up painting independently at a mature age, around the year 1880. Rousseau first showed his works to the general public in 1886, when he participated in the Salon des Indépendants, which provided an opportunity to exhibit to beginner artists who did not meet the requirements of the official Parisian Salon in terms of style or subject matter. Over the next seven years, Rousseau shared his time between his official duties, his family and painting activities, exhibiting some 20 works at the Salon des Indépendants. He studied and copied works at the Louvre a good deal, learning through practice. For a long time, however, his output went almost unnoticed by the public and aroused only constant ridicule from critics. Nonetheless, Henri Rousseau was highly regarded by friends and contemporaries who were astonished at his freedom from influences and artistic borrowings. Rousseau has gone down in art history as an exemplary exponent of naïve art or Primitivism. An inscription on the back of this picture in the Hermitage refers to another with a similar subject that is now in the Cleveland Museum of Art in the USA. The Hermitage canvas is a replica of that one. The iconography of the work derives from an etching of a tiger attacking a bull published in the periodical L’Art in 1906. (SHM)


Rousseau, Henri (1844-1910)
Combat de tigre et de buffle
Cleveland Museum of ArtCleveland