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The Magic Space Created by Rousseau - The Snake Charmer


The Snake Charmer

Henri Rousseau
Oil on canvas
169 x 189.5 cm
Musée d'Orsay, Paris

Rousseau, an initiator of Surrealism, was avidly admired by artists such as Alfred Jarry, André Breton, Guillaume Apollinaire, Robert Delaunay, and Pablo Picasso, and it was Delaunay's mother who commissioned this work. Set in the Garden of Eden, on a deep, unsettling night, the snake charmer plays music while snakes, representing temptation, roam around her, even coiling around her neck, evoking fear and dread and signaling a tragic end.

The bright moon illuminates the lake, the plants and the pink pelicans, while the artist only placed the snake-handling woman and the snake in the backlit darkness, showing its wild charm and a strange sense of silence even more. The entire canvas is controlled by Surrealism. The wonderful use of color, the childish but precise picture, and the innovation of asymmetrical structure were all part of Rousseau's exploration of himself and his dedication to art.

In Rousseau's works of night scenes, the moon appears in the form of a full circle, and the colors are very bright, thus echoing the contrasting relationship between light and dark in the painting.

The snake charmer appears as a nude figure, but the backlit palette gives a mysterious and eerie feeling. Although the pink pelican next to her eases this sense of tension, it is still very depressing. The snakes around her sway to the music in a gesture that echoes the curves of the female flesh.

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