From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Henri Julien Félix Rousseau (May 21, 1844 – September 2, 1910) was a French fin de siècle painter in the Naive or Primitive manner. He is also known as Le Douanier (the customs officer) after his place of employment. Ridiculed during his life, he came to be recognized as a self-taught genius whose works are of high artistic quality.
Rousseau's work exerted an "extensive influence ... on several generations of vanguard artists, starting with Picasso and including Jean Hugo, Léger, Beckmann and the Surrealists," according to Roberta Smith, an art critic writing in The New York Times. "Beckmann’s amazing self-portraits, for example, descend from the brusque, concentrated forms of Rousseau’s portrait of the writer Pierre Loti".
One of his works was used to be an inspiration for the animated film Madagascar.
The song The Jungle Line by Joni Mitchell is based upon a Rousseau painting.