Portrait of Pierre Loti (1905-06) by Henri Rousseau

Portrait of Pierre Loti - Henri Rousseau - c.1891

Artwork Information

TitlePortrait of Pierre Loti
ArtistHenri Rousseau
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions52 x 62 cm
Art MovementNaïve Art (Primitivism)
Current LocationKunsthaus Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland

About Portrait of Pierre Loti

The artwork titled “Portrait of Pierre Loti” is an oil on canvas painting by Henri Rousseau, dating circa 1891. It is a work characteristic of the Naïve Art movement, particularly Primitivism. With dimensions measuring 52 by 62 cm, this portrait genre artwork is part of the collection at the Kunsthaus Zürich in Zürich, Switzerland.

The artwork captures a compelling and somewhat whimsical portrayal of a man who appears to be of some notability, given the confident and self-assured expression on his face. He is depicted wearing a fez, a symbol that can be associated with an oriental theme, likely indicative of the sitter’s interests or travels. The painting reflects the primitive style with its bold, simple lines and a somewhat flat perspective that disregards the nuances of light and shadow typical of more realistically rendered portraits.

The facial features of the subject are rendered with stark contrast and exaggeratedly smooth contours that convey a sense of caricature. He is attired in a formal black coat with a red cravat, and his right hand, prominently displayed, holds what appears to be a cigarette between his fingers, which adds a casual air to the otherwise formal presentation.

Uniquely, a striped cat sits on the subject’s lap, gazing directly out of the artwork, creating an unexpected focal point and giving the portrait an intimate and personal touch. The choice of pet inclusion and its prominent position reinforces the individuality of the subject. In the background, a tree and a serene sky with fluffy clouds contribute to a peaceful ambiance, though a factory with smoke stacks visible behind the subject’s head might imply a connection to the industrial era, society, or the modern world.

The artist’s name, “H. Rousseau,” is inscribed in the lower right corner, indicating Rousseau’s authorship of this distinctive piece.

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