The sleeping gypsy. Striped masterpiece by Henri Rousseau

Rousseau sleeping gypsy
Henri Rousseau. The sleeping gypsy. 1897. The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), New-York.

It would seem that Henri Rousseau portrayed an ominous scene. A predator crept up to a sleeping person.

But the feeling of anxiety does not occur. For some reason, we are sure that the lion will not attack the gypsy.

Moonlight gently falls on everything. The gypsy robe seems to glow with fluorescent colors.

And there are a lot of wavy lines in the picture. Striped bathrobe and striped pillow. Gypsy hair and lion’s mane. Mandala strings and ridges of mountains in the background.

Soft, fantastic light and flowing lines cannot be combined with a bloody scene. We are sure that the lion sniffs the woman and goes on about his business.

Obviously, Henri Russo is a post-impressionist in the primitive manner. Two-dimensional image, deliberately bright colors. All this we observe in his “Gypsy”.

But the most amazing thing is that, being self-taught, the artist was sure that he was a realist!

Hence such “realistic” details: folds on a pillow from a reclining head, a lion’s mane consists of carefully written locks, and a woman’s shadow (although the lion has no shadow).

An artist who deliberately paints in the style of primitivism would ignore such details. A mane of a lion would be a continuous mass. And the folds on the pillow would not be discussed at all.

That is why Rousseau is so unique. It was simply that there was no other artist in the world who sincerely considered himself a realist, in fact, not being one.

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