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The sleeping Gypsy

Painting, 1897, 200.7×129.5 cm

Description of the artwork «The sleeping Gypsy»

Picture "The sleeping Gypsy" Russo offered to buy the mayor of his hometown of Laval for 2000 francs. He did not even deign to answer the message. But this letter was proof of authorship – many believed painting drawing Derainallegedly wrote it "under Rousseau".

As wanted Customs (under the nickname of Russo entered the history of world painting) to become famous as a realist artist, as I sincerely believe that his paintings are realistic! What hope referred to himself in the biography, which will not be published "one of our best realist painters of our time".

Their teachers Rousseau believed then popular Felix Clement and Leon Gerome. According to him, he "could use some tips" of these painters. Not the fact that they knew about it, at least on the meetings with Jerome unknown, although, according to rumors, the master of salon painting once criticized the nines Rousseau paintings (Monet, and then also went).

However, Rousseau tried very hard to work in a realistic style and imitated his teachers, Jerome wrote quite a lot of wild animals, loved to portray and Customs. In particular, this painting is inspired by the "Saint Jerome" Jerome. If the Holy can sleep leaning on a lion, which prevents the sleeping Gypsy coexist with the lion?

Additional confirmation of the fact that the picture is painted in a realistic style, according to Rousseau, was the part – time desert, so the pitcher of water. In a letter to the mayor, the artist carefully emphasized this fact: "next to her is depicted lying jug (inside it drinking water)". Mandolin near sleeping, on the idea of Rousseau, needs to indicate her profession.

A Gypsy is depicted in the style of Oriental women, colored clothing contrasts with the dark tone of the face. The image is two-dimensional. Of course, it's not realism. But the inability of Rousseau to build perspective and to correlate the size determines the grandeur of the painting, giving it a certain sense of monumentality and perhaps even mythological. This can be seen in the works of Georgian self-taught Niko Pirosmani.

Neither Rousseau nor Pirosmani did not know how to create a spatial design on the canvas. But in some cases the inability and ignorance of "how it's done", lead to higher skill in a different direction. In particular, Rousseau is a brilliant colorist, in many works it quite successfully creates a future only through masterful use of color.

About "the Sleeping Gypsy" Rousseau said she is buried in the moonlight. Indeed, the cool, calm light filled the canvas, creating a feeling of peace and harmony, despite the plot, which is theoretically about "bloodlust". The officer often accompanied his paintings long signatures. In particular, when "Gypsy" was exhibited at the Salon of independents, the frame of the painting, the artist has attached explanatory text: "Predator, possessed by a thirst for blood, freezes in place, not daring to pounce on the sleeping soundly fainting victim".

But the sleeping victim, and the lion fills the moon's soft light, so we know that the drama will not. In fact, as it is not in type, pushed Russo to the writing of this painting – St. Jerome, asleep on the lion.

As the mayor of Laval offer Rousseau ignored, the picture was in a private collection in Paris. In 1924 it was acquired by collector Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, and later he bought for the new York Museum of art historian Alfred Barr.

Author: Alain Esaulova
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About the artwork

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Allegorical scene

Style of art: Primitivism (Naїv art)

Technique: Oil

Materials: Canvas

Date of creation: 1897

Size: 200.7×129.5 cm

Artwork in selections: 43 selections

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