(b. 1844, Laval, d. 1910, Paris)
The Repast of the Lionc. 1907
Oil on canvas, 114 x 160 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Rousseau was a self-taught artist whose first exhibition was held in Paris in 1886, when he was 42. He began to paint imaginary scenes set in the jungle by 1891, the present painting showing a lion devouring a jaguar was probably exhibited at the Salon d'Automne in 1907. The artist's unique vision, his intuitive sense of design and colour, and his precise, profuse use of detail combine to render this mysterious, exotic world authentic. The vegetation is inspired by his visits to the Jardin des Plantes in Paris, but he disregarded their actual sizes in inventing forests that dwarf the figures of natives and animals. His animals are based on photographs in a children's book owned by his daughter.