Henri Rousseau Locations
He was born in Laval in the Loire Valley into the family of a plumber. He attended Laval High School as a day student and then as a boarder, after his father became a debtor and his parents had to leave the town upon the seizure of their house. He was mediocre in some subjects at the high school but won prizes for drawing and music. He worked for a lawyer and studied law, but "attempted a small perjury and sought refuge in the army," serving for four years, starting in 1863. With his father's death, Rousseau moved to Paris in 1868 to support his widowed mother as a government employee. In 1871, he was promoted to the toll collector's office in Paris as a tax collector. He started painting seriously in his early forties, and by age 49 he retired from his job to work on his art. His wife died in 1888 and he later remarried.
Rousseau claimed he had "no teacher other than nature", although he admitted he had received "some advice" from two established Academic painters, Felix Auguste-Clement and Jean-Leon Gerome. Essentially he was self-taught and is considered to be a naive or primitive painter.
Portrait of Rousseau's Second Wife with a Lamp