A Lion Devouring its Prey (1905) by Henri Rousseau

A Lion Devouring its Prey - Henri Rousseau - 1905

Artwork Information

TitleA Lion Devouring its Prey
ArtistHenri Rousseau
Dimensions301.5 x 201.5 cm
Art MovementNaïve Art (Primitivism)
Current LocationPrivate Collection

About A Lion Devouring its Prey

The artwork titled “A Lion Devouring its Prey” was created by Henri Rousseau in 1905. This wildlife painting was executed using oil on canvas as a medium and demonstrates characteristics of the Naïve Art movement, often associated with Primitivism. Measuring 301.5 by 201.5 cm, the composition currently resides in a private collection, emphasizing its exclusivity and potential importance to individual patrons.

The artwork presents a vividly imaginative jungle scene with a lion depicted in the act of devouring its prey. Rousseau has created a lush, dense tapestry of greenery that fills the background and milieu of the painting, with large leaves and tropical foliage dominating the composition. A sense of depth is created through the overlapping of the leaves and the variety of plant species illustrated.

The lion, centrally located, bears a somewhat anthropomorphic expression of ferocity mixed with naivete. Its position over a subdued antelope-like creature suggests the harsh reality of nature’s law. To the right, in the midst of overarching leaves, one can discern the timid figure of an owl, its eyes fixed upon the scene, adding another layer to the portrayal of the animal kingdom. The background reveals a glimpse of a sunset or sunrise with a warm, reddish hue, contrasted by the cool, dark greens and blues of the surrounding vegetation.

Rousseau’s use of flat, vibrant colors, and a lack of perspectival accuracy lends the painting an otherworldly and dreamlike quality, subtly removing it from reality while maintaining its fierce intensity. The scene is static, yet full of potential movement, captured in the moment before or just as the natural drama unfolds, imbuing the tableau with an enduring tension.

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