Henri Rousseau – The Sleeping Gypsy (1897)

His contemporaries called him the Customs Officer (Le Douanier), in reference to his day job as a toll collector in Paris. Mostly a self-taught artist, Henri Rousseau didn’t start painting until he was in his 40s. With his childlike naiveté and vivid imagination, the Frenchman fell right in with the Post-impressionists, having an everlasting impact…

Gustave Courbet – The Desperate Man (1844 – 1845)

Ah, l’enfant terrible of art. The rebel, the radical, the nonconformist. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the French realist painter Gustave Courbet. It wasn’t just his art that brought him notoriety, but also his ostentatious je m’en fous (I don’t give a damn) attitude. See, it’s difficult to write about him without turning…

Robert Delaunay – Rhythm, Joy of Life (1930)

Inspired by 19th century theories about the perception and psychology of color, French artist Robert Delaunay created his own art movement, called Simultanéisme. Simultaneity, in Delauney’s view, meant that color could take a form of its own, affecting the spatial dimension of a composition and the perception of movement within it.  One of his biggest…

Frédéric Bazille – Family Reunion (1867)

He could have been one of the most famous painters in history, his name drawing crowds of visitors to his exhibitions, his paintings selling for millions of dollars. Today French artist Frédéric Bazille is mostly forgotten. But he was there, in the right place, at the right time, on the cusp of making history with…

André Masson – Pedestal Table in the Studio (1922)

When the French artist and writer André Masson (1896 – 1987) met the Catalan painter Joan Miró, the two of them bonded over their love for the limitless visual potential of poetry. In a letter written in 1972, Masson recalled: “It was obvious that for Miró as for myself, poetry (in the broadest sense of…