Henri Julien Félix Rousseau was a self-taught painter who became a friend of Picasso and an inspiration to the Paris avant-garde. He taught himself to paint by copying paintings in the art museums of Paris and by sketching in the city's botanical gardens and natural history museums.
He never profited from his paintings; however, works like "The Dream," "The Sleeping Gypsy" and "Carnival Evening" influenced many artists who came after him, from his friend Picasso to Fernand Léger, Max Ernst and the Surrealists.
Rousseau developed a highly personal style. His portraits and landscapes often had a childlike or "naïve" quality, since he had not learned anatomy or perspective; their vivid colors, ambiguous spaces, non-realistic scale and dramatic intensity gave them a dreamlike quality.
Many of Rousseau's signature paintings depicted human figures or wild animals in jungle-like settings.