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Monday, 6 May 2013

Skunk Ape as Fine Art

Henri Rousseau-Tropical Landscape American Indian Struggling with Gorilla (1910)
Oil on canvas 113,6 x 162,5 cm - Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, USA

This very unusual painting now hangs in Viginia. A typical assessment of the painting is in the following review:

Best known for his imagined "jungle" scenes, this self-taught painter -- who didn't quit his day job with the Parisian customs service until the ripe old age of 49 -- never set foot outside France. That wasn't enough to stop someone with a taste for the exotic from taking flights of visual fancy, fueled mainly by trips to the local botanical gardens, zoo and natural history museum of Paris's Jardin des Plantes, not to mention a steady diet of lowbrow tabloids and picture postcards. From the looks of more than one of his fanciful tableaux (e.g., "Tropical Landscape -- An American Indian Struggling With a Gorilla"), his research was less than meticulous.
No matter.

Actually from what I can gather, Rousseau's subject matter was garnered from tales told by the French expedition troops returning from Mexico, even though he had not gone himself, and in this case the "Tropical Jungle" might well be intended to represent Florida with the "Gorilla" then being a Skunk Ape (My inferrance, you may take that or leave it as you wish) Some of the vegetation is Mexican, and that part probably does come by way of the military men's scuttlebutt.

More on Henri Rousseau at the Wikipedia entry:

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