Henri Rousseau — Autobiography
Notes by Heni Rousseau in July 1895 for an unpublished work, "Portraits for the Coming Century"
Born at Laval in the year 1844, was at first forced, owing to his parents' lack of fortune, to pursue a career different from that to which his artistic tastes called him.
It was therefore not until 1885 that he made his entry into Art, after many reversals, alone, with no Master other than nature and bits of advice culled from Gerome and Clement. His first two works to be shown were submitted to the Salon des Champs-Elysees: they were entitled An Italian Dance and A Sunset.
Next year he painted Carnival Evening and A Thunderbolt. Followed by Expectation, A Poor Fellow, After the Feast, Departure, Picnic, The Suicide, For my Father, Myself, Portrait-Landscape of the Artist, Tiger Chasing Explorers, A Hundred Years of Independence, Liberty, The Last of the 41st, War, a genre portrait of the man-of-letters A. J.... and some 200 drawings, both pen and ink and pencil, along with some landscapes of Paris and environs.
After many difficult trials he managed to make a name for himself among some of the artists of the day. He continued to improve his mastery of the original genre he had developed and is now on the way to becoming one of our best realist painters.
His appearance is notable because of his bushy beard and he has long been a member of the Independents, believing as he does that complete freedom to produce must be granted to the innovator whose thought is elevated toward the beautiful and the good.
He will never forget those members of the Press who understood him and supported him in his moments of discouragement and who assisted him in achieving his goals.
Paris, July 10, 1895