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Landscapes: Real and Imagined

Discover groundbreaking techniques in early modern landscape paintings.


The Dream

Henri Rousseau
(French, 1844–1910)

1910. Oil on canvas, 6' 8 1/2" x 9' 9 1/2" (204.5 x 298.5 cm)

Although Henri Rousseau completed more than 25 jungle paintings like this one in his career, he never traveled outside France. The lush jungle, wild animals, and mysterious horn player featured in this work were inspired by images available to the urban dweller through popular literature, world expositions, natural history museums, and visits to Paris’s combined zoo and botanical garden, Jardin des plantes. Of his visits the artist said, “When I am in these hothouses and see the strange plants from exotic lands, it seems to me that I am entering a dream.”

The nude figure, reclining on a plush sofa, adds a curious domesticity to this wild scene. Like the artist, she may be dreaming of this lush scene from the quiet of her Paris living room.

Relating to or characteristic of a city.