Fight between a Tiger and a Buffalo Henri Rousseau Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Henri made this art piece in 1908. The painting depicts a tiger pinning down a buffalo on the ground. This fight takes place in a jungle. Tigers attacking buffalos happens a lot in the jungle but is it possible he tried to convey meaning with the painting? This article will describe the inspiration behind the artwork, how he painted it and his influence on other artists.


Jungles were rare in France, so how was he able to paint the jungle? He relied on his imagination for this piece. Henri had read a lot of travel books, so he was able to conjure up the jungle. Additionally, he visited a place in France called, "the Paris Botanical Garden." Gardens resemble jungles, so he was able to work with that for his painting.

Henri demonstrates his knowledge of the food chain in this painting. In a jungle, you expect vegetation. It makes sense for the buffalo to be around the jungle since it is an herbivore. A buffalo's predator is a tiger hence its appearance in the painting. The tiger is seen suffocating the buffalo by biting on its neck. Another fascinating feature of the photo is the vegetation. Most of the fruits like bananas, for instance, appear unusually large. A critic can quickly term it as an error, but it may have been deliberate. Henri may have wanted to show the event in close range. Things appear bigger when you zoom in with a camera, for instance.

How it was painted

He painted the piece using oil on fabric painting. The painting technique has been around for years and it still holds up to this day. Oil paints on fabric deteriorate with time. So for the painting to last, the fabric will need to be primed with a substance called gesso. The gesso is applied to the fabric right before the artist paints. To this day, the painting still looks good as it did due to his extensive knowledge of painting techniques. If you wish to see the painting for yourself, you may visit the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

Impact of the painting

Henri was a self-taught artist. Many artists before him, had to enrol into painting schools. Some may argue that this painting were better than the schooled artists. When artists like Pablo Picasso saw this painting, he was greatly inspired to begin the Avant-garde revolution with other artists. The revolution advocated for artists to paint what they felt like painting. Those intested in modern art may also like Joan Miro who produced the likes of Bleu II, Torso and L'Oro dell' Azzurro.