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“The Sleeping Gypsy” by Henri Rousseau

Henri Rousseau 010

“The Sleeping Gypsy” by Henri Rousseau

The Sleeping Gypsy by Henri Rousseau is a fantasy depiction of a lion musing over a sleeping woman on a moonlit night. Rousseau described his painting as:

“A wandering Negress, a mandolin player, lied down with her jar beside her and overcome by fatigue in a deep sleep. A lion chances to pass by picks up her scent yet does not devour her. There is a moonlight effect, very poetic.”

Henri Rousseau was self-taught and developed a style that lacked traditional training, with its absence of strict proportions, one-point perspective, and with the use of sharp, often unnatural colours. The result was art pieces that were imbued with a sense of mystery and eccentricity.

Rousseau started painting seriously in his early forties, and by age 49 he retired from his job to work on his art full-time. His primary employment before he retired was as the customs officer and tax collector. Ridiculed during his lifetime by critics, he came to be recognised as a self-taught genius whose work exerted an extensive influence on several generations of avant-garde artists.

The Sleeping Gypsy

  • Title:                            The Sleeping Gypsy
  • French:                        La Bohémienne endormie
  • Artist:                          Henri Rousseau
  • Date:                            1897
  • Medium:                     Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions:               129.5 cm × 200.7 cm (51.0 in × 79.0 in)
  • Museum:                    Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), NYC

Henri Rousseau

  • Name:                   Henri Julien Félix Rousseau
  • Born:                    1844 – Laval, Mayenne, France
  • Died:                     1910 (aged 66) – Paris, France
  • Nationality:         French
  • Movement:          Post-Impressionism, Naïve art, Primitivism
  • Notable works:


“Great events make me quiet and calm; it is only trifles that irritate my nerves.” Queen Victoria


Photo Credits: 1) Henri Rousseau [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons