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As is the case with many of Rousseau's paintings, he was heavily inspired by the jungle. But he never actually visited a jungle, and his paintings reflect the artist as an explorer. The subjects appear startled as if the artist was creeping up on them to capture their image.
He regularly visited the Botanical Gardens in Paris to help understand nature and get the feeling of lush vegetation. The animals were inspired by images from one of his daughter's drawing books.
Monkeys and Parrot in the Virgin Forest is a classic example of the work of Henri Rousseau. He painted this masterpiece from 1905 to 1906. Using oil on canvas, it is visually similar to many of his other works, including Tiger in a Tropical Storm or Surprise. Rousseau's collection of jungle paintings each took a long time to complete. He built up the layers meticulously, adding more and more detail to each layer. He chose to use a large number of greens to capture the feeling of the jungle. His jungle paintings create the feeling of the artist spying on the subjects.
Monkeys and Parrot in the Virgin Forest is also known by the name Monkeys and Parrot in the Jungle. As the name suggests, the main subjects in the painting are a parrot sitting on a tree, with several monkeys hiding amongst the grass. The parrot is staring directly outwards, posing as if it were a photo. The monkeys are also aware of the viewer and look directly outwards. However, they are shyer in their approach. Most of them are peeping out from the grass and a little wary of being seen. But their curiosity can be felt by the way they are looking over the foreground. One monkey hangs on the branch that the parrot sits on and appears braver than the others, wanting to be in the frame.
Monkeys and Parrot in the Virgin Forest is located in the Barnes Foundation Museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Barnes Foundation is home to one of the world's best collections of impressionist works and works by early modernist artists. It is currently available for viewing in Room 11, along the North Wall. It is in portrait format and measures 56.2 cm x 47.3 cm. This makes the width larger than the height. It creates a sense of trying to get as much of the landscape as possible into the frame.