Although stories abounded about Rousseau’s supposed military adventures in the jungles of Mexico, he never actually left France. Instead, the exotic scenes he depicted were largely based on the foliage and animals he saw on his regular pilgrimages to the Paris Natural History Museum, and to the botanical gardens and zoo, known as the Jardin des Plantes, that surrounded it. Rousseau was also an eager scavenger of images from a variety of printed sources, which he adapted and transformed in his paintings. Perhaps his most important source was an album entitled Bêtes Sauvages (‘Wild Beasts’), which included around 200 photographs of animals in captivity, many of them in the Jardin des Plantes.
1 of 3