200.7 x 129.5 cm
Private Collection, Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York City, NY, US
Rousseau described the subject of The Sleeping Gypsy: “A wandering Negress, a mandolin player, lies with her jar beside her (a vase with drinking water), overcome by fatigue in a deep sleep. A lion chances to pass by, picks up her scent yet does not devour her. There is a moonlight effect, very poetic.” A toll collector for the city of Paris, Rousseau was a largely self-taught painter, although he had ambitions of entering the Academy. This goal was never realized, but his sharp colors, fantastic imagery, and precise outlines—derived from the style and subject matter of popular print culture— struck a chord with a younger generation of avant-garde painters, including Pablo Picasso, Vasily Kandinsky, and Frida Kahlo.