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By the time of his death in 1910 the amateur painter Rousseau was acknowledged by Picasso and others as a naturally creative spirit. More than a decade later, his work was treasured by the Surrealists as evidence of the marvellous aspects of the unconscious. They were fascinated by his unconventional style and obsessive imagination, and Andre Breton had a still life comparable to this one beside his desk. It appeared to open a door into Rousseau’s personal world, signalling a unique individuality.

August 2011