The Sleeping Gypsy 1897 by Henri Rousseau | Oil Painting Reproduction
75 cm
The Sleeping Gypsy 1897
Artist: Henri Rousseau
Size: 49 x 75 cm (19.3 x 29.5")
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Selected size: 49 x 75 cm (19.3 x 29.5")

Henri Rousseau The Sleeping Gypsy 1897

From all of Henry Rousseau paintings, The Sleeping Gypsy is one of the most famous examples of primitive artwork. This oil on canvas painting reveals a mysterious atmosphere and imaginative subject matter which has captivated art-lovers ever since its inception.

When did Henri Rousseau paint The Sleeping Gypsy?

Painted in 1897, The Sleeping Gypsy is a dream-like depiction of a woman and a lion, illuminated by the light of the moon.

Rousseau first exhibited the oil painting at the Paris Salon des Indépendants that same year. As a proud resident of Laval (a municipality in western France), Rousseau hoped the town’s mayor would purchase the work.

Sadly, the painting didn’t appeal to mayoral tastes. Instead, a Parisian charcoal merchant purchased the work.

In 1924, the painting changed hands again. This time, the famed art dealer Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler bought the artwork. Kahnweiler later sold the art onto Alfred H. Barr, working on behalf of the New York Museum of Modern Art.

What is the meaning behind The Sleeping Gypsy?

The Sleeping Gypsy, like much Henri Rousseau art is shrouded in mystery. Despite this, there are certain clues to its meaning.

For instance, Rousseau described the woman as a mandolin player. He identified the vessel beside her as containing drinking water. Rousseau further specified the woman lay in a deep sleep, overcome by extreme fatigue.

Amidst this unusual subject matter, the artist went on to describe how a lion chances upon the scene. Whilst the ferocious animal picks-up the woman’s scent, it does not attack. Overall, Rousseau described the painting as having a “moonlight effect, very poetic.”

Rousseau joined much of the French elite in his fascination with “wandering gypsies”. Referred to as “bohémiens”, Romany people were discussed and fetishized for their position on the fringes of French society.

Common contemporary perceptions linked Romany people with Egypt and Bohemia. This explains the arid landscape of Rousseau’s dream-like world, as well as the woman’s dark-skinned appearance.

In addition, the painting suggests a desire for a pre-industrial past. At this time, France (and Paris in particular) witnessed massive changes as a result of the Industrial Revolution. In contrast to the world of capitalist logic, the Romantic and Primitive painters aimed to reconnect with our emotional selves.

Of course, as with any attempts to create this deeper level of connection, danger lurks. The lion’s unnerving eye gazes directly towards the viewer, challenging our bravery. The woman’s razor-sharp teeth further evoke a sense that this mysterious world is teetering on the edge of dream and nightmare.

How was The Sleeping Gypsy created?

Henri Rousseau jungle paintings were created through gradually building-up flat planes of color. Rousseau’s composition relies on simple geometric forms contrasted with the mysterious, exotic subject matter.

Largely self-taught, the artist worked as a tax collector by day. Due to his unusual techniques and subject-matter, Rousseau was repeatedly denied entry to the highly traditional Académie Française.

Despite (or perhaps because of) this rejection however, Rousseau was later lauded by the twentieth century French avant-garde artists. Along with Henri Rousseau’s The Dream (1910), The Sleeping Gypsy has since become an icon of modern art.

Intriguingly, Rousseau never left Paris. Consequently, the desert landscape was the result of observation within Parisian botanic gardens. Rousseau frequently visited the Jardin des Plantes, which contained an astounding array of flora and fauna captured during French colonization.

Rousseau may have also viewed colonized individuals “displayed” at the 1889 Paris World’s Fair. Popular French illustrations and adventure stories also depicted images of French imperial conquest, all sources Rousseau may have used in the creation of his famous painting.

We offer a 100% money back guarantee or replacement service. If for any reason you are dissatisfied with your painting please contact us within 7 days of receipt, advising the reason you are unhappy and we will provide you with all the information you need for its return or replacement.

We ship free to anywhere in the world via FedEx or DHL expedited service with online tracking.

Your painting will be shipped rolled in strong plastic tubing, ready for stretching and/or framing locally. This is the conventional method of transporting hand-painted oil on canvas. Learn more about how your painting is shipped.

We are able to offer a framing service intercontinental U.S. Please contact us if you would like a quotation. Alternatively, should you prefer, we can recommend a framer in your area.

Notes About Your Painting

Please note that replica oil paintings are finished with an additional 10cm (4") of extra canvas on all sides, allowing ample surplus canvas for stretching and framing.

Why settle for a poster or paper art print when you can own a real oil painting on canvas? This is a hand painted oil painting reproduction of a masterpiece, by a talented artist no electronic transfer methods are employed.

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