“The woman asleep on the couch is dreaming she has been transported to the forest, listening to the sounds from the instrument of the enchanter,” Henri Rousseau wrote of his enigmatic painting, The Dream (1910) . The setting for the musician and the reclining female nude – a moonlit jungle full of exotic foliage and wildlife – was inspired by his visits to Paris’s Jardin des Plantes, a combined botanical garden and zoo. “When I am in these hothouses and see the strange plants from exotic lands, it seems to me that I am entering a dream,“ he once said. Entirely self-taught, Rousseau worked a day job as a customs inspector until around 1885, when he retired on a tiny pension to pursue a full-time career as an artist.
Photographed in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.