The Hungry Lion Throws Itself on the Antelope (1905) by Henri Rousseau

The Hungry Lion Throws Itself on the Antelope - Henri Rousseau - 1905

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Artwork Information

TitleThe Hungry Lion Throws Itself on the Antelope
ArtistHenri Rousseau
Dimensions301 x 200 cm
Art MovementNaïve Art (Primitivism)
Current LocationBeyeler Foundation, Riehen, Switzerland

About The Hungry Lion Throws Itself on the Antelope

The artwork titled “The Hungry Lion Throws Itself on the Antelope” was created by Henri Rousseau in 1905. It is an oil on canvas painting measuring 301 by 200 centimeters and is classified under the Naïve Art movement, often associated with Primitivism. This wildlife painting is part of the collection at the Beyeler Foundation in Riehen, Switzerland.

“The Hungry Lion Throws Itself on the Antelope” immerses the viewer in a vibrant and untamed jungle scene. The foreground is dominated by the dramatic encounter between a lion and an antelope; the lion, depicted mid-attack, conveys a sense of ferocity and movement, its mouth agape, teeth bared, and claws extended as it seizes the antelope. The antelope appears overwhelmed and defenseless, caught in the inevitable grip of the predator. The surrounding flora is rendered with lush detail and a variety of textures, depicting a thick jungle bursting with life. Amidst the leaves, viewers can catch glimpses of other jungle inhabitants, including a lurking leopard and bird species perched serenely, contrasting the violence of the main action. Rousseau’s distinctive style features a lack of perspective and depth, typical of Naïve Art, which creates a flat, almost dreamlike tableau.

The color palette is rich with green tones, set against a backdrop of a waning sun, offering a sense of the time of day when this brutal survival ritual takes place. Despite its apparent simplicity, the detailed rendering of the plants and the intense emotion captured in the struggle between predator and prey make the artwork a compelling and thought-provoking piece that draws the observer into Rousseau’s imaginative interpretation of the natural world.

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