A Carnival Evening (1886) by Henri Rousseau

A Carnival Evening - Henri Rousseau - 1885 - 1886

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Artwork Information

TitleA Carnival Evening
ArtistHenri Rousseau
Date1885 - 1886
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions46 x 35 1/8" (106.9 x 89.3 cm)
Art MovementNaïve Art (Primitivism)
Current LocationPhiladelphia Museum of Art

About A Carnival Evening

The artwork “A Carnival Evening” by Henri Rousseau is an exquisite example of the Naïve Art movement, specifically Primitivism, completed in the period of 1885 – 1886. It is an oil on canvas that measures 46 x 35 1/8 inches (106.9 x 89.3 cm) and belongs to the genre painting category. The Philadelphia Museum of Art houses this compelling piece which captures the viewer’s imagination through its unique style and composition.

The artwork presents an evening scene steeped in an aura of mystery and festivity. Dominated by a dark blue, nocturnal sky, the piece features a full moon casting its light upon the landscape below. Beneath the moon, two characters dressed in carnival attire stand prominently in the foreground, suggesting an air of celebration. The figure on the left, clad in a white costume adorned with frills, holds a trumpet, while the one on the right, wearing a pink-hued dress with green accents, carries a mask, although their attention is not directly focused on each other, implying perhaps a contemplative moment amidst the evening’s revelry.

The backdrop is composed of a line of tall, spindly trees which stretch upwards towards the sky, their leafless branches creating intricate patterns that contrast starkly with the night sky. Below the tree line, a swath of warmer-toned cloud or mist hovers above a darkened and simplified landscape, adding depth and a subtle hint of distant celebration. On the far left, a small, dark structure with a thatched roof perhaps suggests a carnival booth or a rural dwelling. The overall composition is both enigmatic and immersive, inviting viewers to unravel the narrative infused within the quiet yet whimsical scene.

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