Boy on the Rocks (1895) by Henri Rousseau

Boy on the Rocks - Henri Rousseau - 1895

Artwork Information

TitleBoy on the Rocks
ArtistHenri Rousseau
Dimensions47.7 x 55.4 cm
Art MovementNaïve Art (Primitivism)
Current LocationNational Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, US

About Boy on the Rocks

The artwork “Boy on the Rocks” is an oil on canvas painting completed by the artist Henri Rousseau in the year 1895. With dimensions of 47.7 x 55.4 cm, it is a portrait that falls within the Naïve Art movement, sometimes characterized by the term Primitivism. The painting is part of the collection at the National Gallery of Art, located in Washington, DC, United States.

In this painting, Rousseau depicts a young boy standing solo on a rocky terrain. The boy is dressed in a black garment that appears to be a long-sleeved shirt or jacket over a pair of horizontally striped white and black pants. His pose is somewhat forthright and rigid, with his hands by his sides. The boy’s facial features are rendered with simplicity, yet his expression is engaging, bearing a mild, contemplative gaze.

Behind the boy, the rocks rise sharply, resembling spires or peaks, which contribute to the stark, almost surreal landscape that envelopes the boy. The colors used are relatively muted, with the exception of the boy’s attire, which stands out against the natural background. The sky, while plain, sets a calm tone to the scenario. Rousseau’s approach to painting—evident through his distinctive technique and perspective—manifests his self-taught background and contributes to the unique charm that characterizes his work. The absence of depth and the flatness of the forms underscore the naïve quality inherent to Rousseau’s artistry.

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