Henri Rousseau ‘The Dream’ is a combination of typical elements, a naked lady lying on a sofa, wild animals and what looks like a jungle. The oil painting is located in The museum of modern art, New York.
Rousseau was a self taught french painter who is known mostly for his paintings of the jungle.
At first glance people do not see the native figure that is playing an instrument nestled in amongst all the foliage with lions at their feet. But as you start to discover the other elements within the painting you find a lot more elements. It is like he has purposely hidden the details of this image, this jungle for us – the viewer to find. He loved to copy plants and animals from books, labouring over each leaf and each piece of detail, yet the landscape does not actually exist. The image is almost like a cartoon, having outlines, showing flowers as pure shapes and the figures to be somewhat delayed viewing to the audience. The essence of this painting I believe to be pure fantasy, Rousseau creating something he would like to see, or his ultimate picture/landscape of beauty. Think about the situation, you are laid naked(as God intended) on a couch in jungle as a native plays sweet music as you simply enjoy the surroundings. For Rousseau maybe this was his place of peace, the place he goes to when reality got too hard. To depict such a thing is brave, displaying his most personal thoughts and feelings in a painting for others to see. Perhaps this is the reasoning behind hiding details within the picture, allowing the audience to explore the meaning, his reasoning and its beauty as it were intended.
Rousseau enjoyed studying real animals, flowers etc,but I think this he concentrated on the way he saw things, he could see the detail and beauty of one single leaf, but was able to show the world how he sees a single leaf, not how we are told to see a single leaf. So that is why I think he moved away from realistic landscapes.
Overall I really quite like this image, and can find a lot to talk about when looking at it. There are a lot of other details that I could have talked about due to the date this painting was created and the fact that at the time, slavery and racism was very much alive.