Woman Walking in an Exotic Forest 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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Created in 1905, Woman Walking in an Exotic Forest by Henri Rousseau combines garden plants and tropical vegetation in gargantuan proportions to great effect.

Dressed in the fashions of the period, the woman to the right of the painting stands amid a flat, stage-like jungle, engulfed by overgrown house plants and swamped by oversized trees adorned with oranges larger than her head. The woman is not the focal point of this painting however. Positioned near the bottom of the painting surrounded by luscious tropical vegetation, this woman was not in a rainforest at all but instead in an extremely tall grove of orange trees. The painting is like a fantasy in which a woman goes on safari and finds herself in a grove of gigantic, magical orange trees.

One of Rousseau's favourite places to explore was the Jardin de Plantes. Here he would study the plants that inspired his paintings. He scaled them up and adjusted them to fit his ideal of what tropical vegetation looked like. This explains why the plants in the painting look like large orange trees and blue daisies – plants not typically associated with the rainforest.

The objects in the painting appear flat and their shapes are distinct, unlike the objects in a Monet painting for example, which have softer, blended lines. Some objects in his paintings overlap others which is the only indication that some things are closer than others.

Rousseau's paintings contain few bold colours and the lines are sharp compared to other artists'. The colours the artist used were simple. The leaves of the trees and the grasses only consisted of two or three shades of green, unlike the greenery in the other paintings that were painted with dozens of colours, all blended together. Rousseau used wide flat brush strokes and one colour at a time; painting the blues and then the greens and so on.