by Scholes, Robert
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Henri Rousseau (1844 - 1910)
He was born in Laval. His work as a customs officer in Paris earned him the nickname of "le douanier." He began to paint late in life, not showing his work until 1886, in the Salon des Indépendants, where his paintings did not receive a favorable response from the public, though his fellow artists were interested. In 1908 Picasso gave a banquet, half serious half burlesque, in his honor. He had never been taught how to paint and belonged to no school, though some people would class him as a “primitive”. His manner of painting in flat colors resulted in each object in his images being isolated from the others, and his ignorance of the tricks of perspective brought everything toward a single flat plane. But his images have a haunting quality that connects them to both the symbolists and the expressionists.