I discovered that Henri Rousseau is a quite interesting character. He was a painter born in the same period as Cezanne and Monet but it is difficult to categorize his paintings because of his lack of technique: he might be something in between a primitive-impressionist/ pre-cubist painter (it is said to have some influence on Picasso and Delaunay for example). He “qualifies” to be a naive painter.
But the most astonishing fact of Rousseau is his influence and involvement in the life of young avant-guard artists/ cultural figures. He used to organize cultural soirees and surround himself with young artists. He even wrote personalized invitation cards and wrote the formal program down. I think that this connection with the young artists came because of his childhood and young adult life: he was part of a poor family and could not “follow” his dream of being a painter untill his late 40’s. He became friends with Apollinaire (who was close to Raymond Radiguet – remember?), Picasso (who bought most of his paintings), Delaunay and Brancusi (who later was to carve out his tomb stone). All these were present at the soirees. Rousseau was poor all his life, even brought in trail (he escaped because his lawyer “proved” the Court that his paintings show that Rousseau was naive, innocent). I like his jungle/ nature paintings most.