Rousseau, who is considered the father of Modern painting, spent his whole life in his native France, yet was so fascinated by these tropical terrains that he began to paint them around the late 1890s.

Henri Rousseau, Deaux lions a l'affut dans la jungle, circa 1909-1910 Henri Rousseau, Deaux lions a l'affut dans la jungle, circa 1909-1910

So where did this Frenchman who never left France find inspiration to create the enigma of the jungle? Influenced by illustrations in children's literature as well as Paris' wealth of Botanical gardens, Rousseau imagined his own leafy landscapes.

So the legend goes, whilst serving in the French army, Rousseau would hear the tales of the jungle as told to him by survivors of French expeditions to Mexico.

Rousseau's first jungle scene was Surpris!, which depicts what the artist once described as, a tiger hunting explorers. It was exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants in 1891.

As a flâneur of Paris' streets, Rousseau's fantastical jungles offered escapism from the city. His modern and almost surrealist paintings were adored by his fellow artists René Magritte, Max Ernst and Pablo Picasso, for their bold and primitive style.

Henri Rousseau, Surpris!, 1891Image: National Gallery Henri Rousseau, Surpris!, 1891
Image: National Gallery

In 2006, Tate Modern dedicated an exhibition to the jungles of Rousseau's oeuvre entitled Henri Rousseau: Jungles in Paris, which featured 50 works, most of which had previously rarely been seen in the UK.

Rousseau's Deaux lions a l'affut dans la jungle will be featured in HVMC's Modern and contemporary paintings, sculptures and photographs sale on 14th December, 2016. The sale will also include an impressive line-up of works from masters of modern and contemporary including Renoir, Signac, Utrillo, Dubuffet and more.

Augusto Giacometti, Orangenverkäufer I, 1932 Augusto Giacometti, Orangenverkäufer I, 1932

Maurice Utrillo, Montmartre, le Lapin Agile sous la neige, circa 1930 Maurice Utrillo, Montmartre, le Lapin Agile sous la neige, circa 1930

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Enfant à la marinière Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Enfant à la marinière

Check out the full sale here.

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