Henri Rousseau is the best known and greatest of all of the naive painters.
He was the son of a tinsmith. His jobs before he started seriously painting in his early 40s included working for a lawyer, serving in the army for four years, as a government employee in Paris to support his mother when his father died; and, in 1871, promotion to the toll collector's office in Paris as a tax collector.
In his mid-20s, he began a relationship with a cabinetmaker's daughter, Clemence Boitard.
Rousseau started painting seriously in his early forties. He was largely self-taught.
- A casual acquaintance of Rousseau once suggested the undertake a fraudulent bank transaction. Rousseau agreed, was apprehended, and had to appear in court. He was only placed on probation. Upon the pronouncement of his release, he said to the judge: 'In order to thank you, I shall paint a picture of your wife!'
- In November 2005, Tate Modern had a major exhibition of his work, which ran for four months
- His most famous painting is The Sleeping Gypsy (1897)
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