Henri Rousseau and cats

pebbles on the landing_with name Although the phrase, “Dog is man’s best friend,” it may actually be a misnomer for according to some folks, it is the cat that rules the roost. And yes, we all know that it is the dog that greets you when you come in from work, the dog that accompanies you on long walks in the park, and it is the dog that sleeps by the foot of the bed. Yet, isn’t this he same beast that is “oh so needy”. How often do we have to come home just to “feed” the dog because he or she is too greedy not to leave some for later, or we have to “get home” quickly to take the dog out because it can’t do its business on its own, or get back to the house to “check on the dog” because it can’t be trusted not to keep the sofa pillows out of its mouth or overturn the flowerpot!

But the cat, with its self-sufficiency, its independence, and yes, smugness about its aloofness as well as its ability to get what it wants by sauntering and parading about on little cat pads…we all might just admit that just perhaps it is the feline that might be deserving of the phrase, “Cat is man’s best friend.” After all, it can’t help it if they consider us “staff”… teasing us with just enough affection to lead us into a false sense of necessity. But perhaps, with all their independence and self-reliance they just don’t need us after all, but rather they are stringing us along for their next fix of cat nip!

Today’s post brings back the esteemed thinker Henri Rousseau (1844-1910 b. Laval, France), a most creative and a self-taught genius whose paintings are of high artistic quality. Rousseau, a French artist, is famous for his representation of the jungle, though he never left Paris. In addition to his exotic scenes there was a parallel production of smaller topographical images of the city and its suburbs. His work is often categorized into several different periods: Post-Impressionism, Naïve art, Modern art, and Primitivism.

I now bring you Rousseau’s painting titled, “Portrait of Pierre Loti”, a most interesting work that defines the cat’s ability to showcase itself in a most unassuming and cunning way…for clearly we can see it assumes a prominent spot in this portrait!

Rousseau portrait-of-pierre-loti

Esteemed thinker: Henri Rousseau

There are twenty-four hours in the day all making up the exact amount of minutes, sixty-per-hour to be exact. However, it is curious that some of these hours seem to fly by, not allowing us to complete specific tasks. It is during this time that we often say, “time flies”. Yet, on the opposite pole, there exists times when we feel an hour goes by so slowly that we wish it away. These creeping hours are universally agreed upon to be relegated to the occasions when we wake up in the middle of the night and are unable to fall back to sleep.

During these fitful hours nothing seems to agree. Our pillows are too flat or too thick, our sheets are too hot or too cold, and the room is too quiet or too noisy. The clock’s ticking or lit numbers seem too loud or too bright, and seem only remind to us that we should be asleep.

Twenty-four hours in the day may be the official count however, during unintentional times we are awake instead of sleeping, twenty –four hours seems interminable. rousseau image

Today’s blog brings to you the esteemed thinker: Henri Rousseau (1844-1910), a self-taught French artist born in Laval, France. His nickname, “Le Douanier” (“the customs officer”) by his acquaintances in the Parisian avant-garde was given to him because of his occupation as a toll collector. During his life as an artist he was often ridiculed as not being good, and unlike his peers who profited by their art, Rousseau did not.
His style, often described as childlike and naïve, did in fact portray his subjects with bold colors and very personalized style. His style was never appreciated by the conservative art officials in Paris, yet he was able to find exhibitions that accepted his work to be shown.

It was contemporary artist friends such as Camille Pissarro who praised his direct approach. After his death in 1910, his work did influence other artists; from his friend Picasso to Max Ernst and the Surrealists.

And so, I bring you a most famous painting by “Le Douanier”, which envisions those set hours we call night….here is an oil on canvas titled “The Sleeping Gypsy” (1897).

rousseau_ sleeping gypsy

Second image: Henri Rousseau 1902 photomechanical print : photogravure