Henri Rousseau: Jungles in Paris: Rousseau and modernity: The World's Fair

Henri Rousseu: Jungles in Paris exhibition - Anonymous Rue du Caire. Ministère de la Culture

Anonymous
Rue du Caire. Ministère de la Culture

Médiathèque de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine, Paris. © CMN

Village on the Champs de Mars1895 - Paris World Fair (Henri Rousseau: Jungles in Paris)

Village on the Champs de Mars1895

Collection Gérard Lévy. Photo: Karin Maucotel

Henri Rousseau: Jungles in Paris exhibition - Anonymous Javanese Village (Paris World Fair)

Anonymous
Javanese Village

Ministère de la Culture, Médiathèque de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine, Paris. © CMN

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Film of the World's Fair

Rousseau was amongst the crowds who thronged to visit the 1889 Paris World’s Fair. He was even inspired to write a vaudeville play about the experience. The World’s Fair was not only a showcase for France’s pioneering spirit in science and technology, but also celebrated the country’s colonial wealth. Mock tribal villages, whose inhabitants had been shipped in from French colonies around the world to recreate life in West Africa, or the East Indies, or Indochina were presented as a tourist display in the heart of Paris. Rousseau would have been influenced by such scenes, and included native figures in a number of his jungle paintings.