Scouts Attacked by a Tiger (Eclaireurs attaques par un tigre) 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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Scouts Attacked by a Tiger was painted by Henri Rousseau in 1904 and was the second of his jungle paintings. It shows a feral cat in a threatening dense jungle seizing upon a scout.

The perspective isn’t rational in this painting – a horse with its rider rears up and seems to be dwarfed by the tiger, and little intention by Henri to draw the rider with realism is so obvious.

The painting’s moral appears to be about the lack of relation or incommensurability between the sovereign reserve of the creatures and the human being social world: and when these two worlds meet what follows is lack of understanding, chaos, and violence. Henri's Scout Attacked by a Tiger is currently in the Barnes Foundation in Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

Surprised! (Or Tiger in a Tropical Storm) was the first of the artist’s jungle paintings. After five years, he painted his next jungle scene: Scouts Attacked by a Tiger. The tiger appears in a number of his paintings: Fight Between a Tiger and a Buffalo (1908), Tiger Hunt (c. 1908), and Jungle with Buffalo Attacked by a Tiger (1908). The artist had no formal training in arts: he was a tax (toll) collector in Paris. As a result, Henri Rousseau's style in all of his paintings is considered to be naïve. He is, however, considered to be a symbolic artist due to the dreamlike quality of his works.

Henri was self-taught, even though he admitted to receiving some advice from academic artists like Jean-Leon Gerome. He was inspired by the jungle; however, he was never there. Rousseau's sources of imagination were visits to the Botanical Gardens and zoos in Paris and illustrated books. He used images from his daughter’s drawing book as well. It was the high decorative quality of his paintings and genuine feeling that brought him attention from other professional artists. Henri painted in layers. He used to start with the sky in the background and ended with people or animals in the foreground. Rousseau also used innovative brushwork.

When Henri painted Scouts Attacked by Tiger (Or Éclaireurs attaqués par un tigre in French) and other jungle paintings, he sometimes used over 50 varieties of green. Even though obtained from nature, the talented artist’s foliage is adapted to his artistic needs and is usually not recognized as being made up of specific plants. Rousseau used a student grade of paint because of lack of money. As a result, certain areas of over-painting are now badly cracked. The issue, however, isn't uncommon in oil paintings.