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Image of 'Surprised!' by Henri Rousseau, 1891

'Surprised!' by Henri Rousseau, 1891

This jungle scene was painted by the French artist, Henri Rousseau, in 1891, and is signed in the bottom left corner. Rousseau is now famous for his jungle scenes, although it is thought that he never actually visited a jungle – rather, he took his inspiration from trips to the Jardin des Plantes, the botanical gardens in Paris, and from prints and illustrated books.

Rousseau later described the painting as representing a tiger pursuing explorers, but he may originally have intended the 'surprise' to be the sudden tropical storm breaking in the sky above the tiger. We can see long streaks of lightening, and imagine the rumble of thunder. Stripes govern the whole design, in tones of green, yellow, orange, brown and red, and the tiger is well camouflaged amongst the lush foliage.

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