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.
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