Gentle Rousseau

As a home educating mother of my six, I chose a classical education for my children. I admit it was not strictly classical, as I did not teach them solely from ‘source’ literature. But, the children did learn second languages including Latin, learn musical instruments, and dance. (Our eldest at 12 danced with the Russian Imperial Ballet performing in The Nut Cracker in Auckland.) You get the idea.

Friday studies in our house were different – away went work books, tests were completed and then the day really began…We undertook fizzing science experiments, we listened to soaring classical music while learning about the composer’s life and then finished the academic day indulging in the life of a famous artist and his soul-enriching works.

As a Home educating mum, I was always seeing learning opportunities at every turn. It was at one of these ‘turns’ in Ikes Emporium, Devonport, Auckland, that I came across a perfect resource.

On sale was a calendar presenting twelve prints of Henri Rousseau, a famous Naïve artist 1844-1910. An artist who thought his works a true representation of academic style. The truth was, he was ridiculed. Others thought his art to be comical and incomprehensible. Suffering great hardship, Henri’s dogged determination and resistant thick skin gained him success of sorts; he enjoyed a small following of avant-garde intellectuals and artists, among them Gauguin and Picasso.

I confess, for me, Rousseau started out as a home educating resource, but soon became a ‘keeper’ in our home décor. His paintings, although naive, make me smile.

There is a moral here for us all – these prints are a reminder that if one backs one’s self, contrary to many voices around, one will gain success. I’m not talking about gold and glory; I’m talking about self-accomplishment, feelings of worth and personal satisfaction beyond measure.

These painting I have framed, seem to be Henri’s less well known works. Perhaps the copyright was easier to circumnavigate or something! Nevertheless let me share them with you…

Portrait of Pierre Loti 1891


View Of Malakoff Hauts de Seine 1903


The Flamingos 1907


The Banks of the Bievre near Bicetre 1909


Jungle Tiger Fighting A Buffalo 1908


The Avenue in the Park at Saint-Cloud 1908


The Poultry Yard 1898


The following photos were not taken with blogging in mind, but am determined to share with you how art can bring inspirational character and charm to any style of house or cottage!

I painted a selection of old dated picture frames black, popped in the prints in landscape and portrait mix and hung them…

Firstly, in our hydro cottage, a holiday rental in Mangakino, New Zealand.


Then Rousseau’s next stop, on the wall of our freshly renovated kitchen in a freshly renovated Auckland inner-city flat.

Finally, Rousseau’s works have returned to Mangakino and hang in the library area of our holiday home the house next to the cottage where they started.

Starting to hang them!


Certainly, this is a tale of a home-ed mum delighting in her work, a tale of interior design and up-cycling on a budget, but it’s more, much more, it is a tale of how art can sneak a place in one’s life making a gratifyingly emotional connection.

My all-time favourite Rousseau painting? That’s for my next blog; but here is a clue. If you know which painting this comes from, please comment below.


Thanks Henry, you just keep on giving!

I leave with this: –

Guillaume Apollinaire, a sculptor and champion of Rousseau wrote the epitaph that was etched on his tombstone

Gentle Rousseau you can hear us. We salute you.
Delaunay, his wife, Monsieur Queval and myself.
Let our luggage pass duty-free through the gate of heaven.
We are bringing you brushes paints and canvas.
That you may spend your sacred leisure hours
Painting in the light of Truth eternal.
As you once painted my portrait  f
acing the stars.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s