Nude and Bear (1901) by Henri Rousseau

Nude and Bear - Henri Rousseau - 1901

Artwork Information

TitleNude and Bear
ArtistHenri Rousseau
Art MovementNaïve Art (Primitivism)
Current LocationBarnes Foundation, Philadelphia, PA, US

About Nude and Bear

The artwork “Nude and Bear” was created by Henri Rousseau in 1901 and exemplifies the Naïve Art movement, specifically Primitivism. Painted with oil on canvas, this genre painting is housed in the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, PA, USA. Rousseau’s piece is celebrated for its raw and instinctual visual language, as characteristic of the Primitivism style within Naïve Art which often emulates a child-like approach to art-making.

In the artwork, a central nude female figure stands amid a lush and dreamlike forest scene; her expression is one of surprise or awe. Surrounding her are two bears – one to her left appears to be playing a wind instrument, while the other one, on her right, looks up at her almost playfully. The setting sun creates a warm glow in the background, contrasting with the otherwise cool palette of greens and browns that dominate the forest environment. The stylization of the figures and the landscape elements are simplified and lack conventional perspective, reinforcing the Naïve aesthetic Rousseau is renowned for. The scene invokes a sense of enchantment and myth, akin to a fable or an untamed dream, while challenging the boundary between civilization and the wild.

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