The life and works of henri rousseau

Early life[ edit ] Rousseau was born in Laval, MayenneFrance, in into the family of a tinsmith; he was forced to work there as a small boy. Though mediocre in some of his high school subjects, Rousseau won prizes for drawing and music. With his father's death, Rousseau moved to Paris in to support his widowed mother as a government employee.

The life and works of henri rousseau

Rousseau senior had an equally glorious image of his own importance; after marrying above his modest station as a watchmaker, he got into trouble with the civil authorities by brandishing the sword that his upper-class pretentions prompted him to wear, and he had to leave Geneva to avoid imprisonment.

Rousseau was fortunate in finding in the province of Savoy a benefactorthe baroness de Warenswho provided him with a refuge in her home and employed him as her steward.

She also furthered his education to such a degree that the boy who had arrived on her doorstep as a stammering apprentice who had never been to school developed into a philosopher, a man of letters, and a musician. Her morals distressed Rousseau, even when he became her lover.

But she was a woman of taste, intelligence, and energy, who brought out in Rousseau just the talents that were needed to conquer Paris at a time when Voltaire had made radical ideas fashionable. Rousseau reached Paris when he was 30 and was lucky enough to meet another young man from the provinces seeking literary fame in the capital, Denis Diderot.

Rousseau, the most original of them all in his thinking and the most forceful and eloquent in his style of writing, was soon also the most conspicuous.

He went on to write his first important work, a prize essay for the Academy of Dijon entitled Discours sur les sciences et les arts ; A Discourse on the Sciences and the Artsin which he argues that the history of human life on earth has been a history of decay.

Throughout his life he kept returning to the thought that people are good by nature but have been corrupted by society and civilization. He did not mean to suggest that society and civilization are inherently bad but rather that both had taken a wrong direction and become more harmful as they became more sophisticated.

Many Roman Catholic writers, for example, deplored the direction that European culture had taken since the Middle Ages.

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They shared the hostility toward progress that Rousseau had expressed. What they did not share was his belief that people are naturally good. It was, however, just that belief that Rousseau made the cornerstone of his argument.

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Rousseau may well have received the inspiration for that belief from Mme de Warens; for although she had become a communicant of the Roman Catholic Churchshe retained—and transmitted to Rousseau—much of the sentimental optimism about human purity that she had herself absorbed as a child from the mystical Protestant Pietists who were her teachers in the canton of Bern.

At all events, the idea of human goodness, as Rousseau developed it, set him apart from both conservatives and radicals.

His speciality there was musicand it was in this sphere that he first established his influence as a reformer. Controversy with Rameau The arrival of an Italian opera company in Paris in to perform works of opera buffa comic opera by Giovanni Battista PergolesiAlessandro ScarlattiLeonardo Vinciand other such composers suddenly divided the French music-loving public into two excited camps, supporters of the new Italian opera and supporters of the traditional French opera.

He was the only one to direct his fire squarely at the leading living exponent of French operatic music, Jean-Philippe Rameau. Rousseau and Rameau must at that time have seemed unevenly matched in a controversy about music. Rousseau, by contrast, was 30 years younger, a newcomer to music, with no professional training and only one successful opera to his credit.

Yet the dispute was not only musical but also philosophical, and Rameau was confronted with a more-formidable adversary than he had realized.

Rousseau built his case for the superiority of Italian music over French on the principle that melody must have priority over harmony, whereas Rameau based his on the assertion that harmony must have priority over melody. By pleading for melody, Rousseau introduced what later came to be recognized as a characteristic idea of Romanticismnamely, that in art the free expression of the creative spirit is more important than strict adherence to formal rules and traditional procedures.

The life and works of henri rousseau

By pleading for harmony, Rameau reaffirmed the first principle of French Classicismnamely, that conformity to rationally intelligible rules is a necessary condition of art, the aim of which is to impose order on the chaos of human experience.

In music, Rousseau was a liberator. He argued for freedom in music, and he pointed to the Italian composers as models to be followed. European music had taken a new direction. But Rousseau himself composed no more operas. Despite the success of Le Devin du village, or rather because of its success, Rousseau felt that, as a moralist who had decided to make a break with worldly values, he could not allow himself to go on working for the theatre.

He decided to devote his energies henceforth to literature and philosophy. Indeed, he decided to return to that city, repudiate his Catholicism, and seek readmission to the Protestant church.

To the surprise of his friends, he took her with him to Geneva, presenting her as a nurse. Although her presence caused some murmurings, Rousseau was readmitted easily to the Calvinist communion, his literary fame having made him very welcome to a city that prided itself as much on its culture as on its morals.

Rousseau had by that time completed a second Discourse in response to a question set by the Academy of Dijon: The argument follows on that of his first Discourse by developing the proposition that people are naturally good and then tracing the successive stages by which they have descended from primitive innocence to corrupt sophistication.

It is the inequalities of the latter sort that he set out to explain. Human vices, he argued, date from the time when societies were formed. Rousseau thus exonerates nature and blames society.Dec 04,  · Henri Rousseau () Three apes In The Orange Grove X58cm Oil on Canvas c.

The life and works of henri rousseau

Signed lower left, Henri Rousseu MTA One of the most important works at the collection of The M.T. Abraham Center for the Visual Arts is a work by Henri Take, for example, Henri Rousseau who didn’t begin painting until later in life and was rejected time and again by the academy.

Despite experiencing one failure after another, Rousseau continued to believe in himself and finally, others began to see his genius. by Henri Rousseau. Naïve Art (Primitivism). still life.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau was one of the most important philosophers of the Enlightenment period.

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Learn about his important works, his main ideas, and how he influenced other philosophers, movements. Feb 23,  · Henri Rousseau ( – ) was a French artist did not start painting until he was in his 40’s.

Ridiculed during his life, he came to be recognized as a self-taught genius whose works are of high artistic quality. The Frenchman Henri (Le Douanier) Rousseau {roo-soh'}, 21, , d.

Sept. 2, , having spent most of his life as a customs inspector (or douanier), devoted himself to painting upon his retirement and became the most distinguished primitive artist of the modern era.

Rumriver Art Center - Art Projects for Homeschoolers: Henri Rousseau: Bird drawing