Astrology of The Artist, plus, Henri Rousseau's The Dream :
A Cosmic Portrait of the Artist by Jude Cowell
Biographical details concerning the life of painter Henri Rousseau usually include the fact that a certain mystique surrounded him. He's not quite in the 'not much is known' category of famous artists but he comes pretty close. So let's see if his natal horoscope and planets (RR: B if you care for a peek, or a glance, below) can lift at least a corner of the veil of secrecy that enshrouds the life, personality, and creativity of Henri Rousseau. Note that some differences exist between the two bio sketches linked here--ex: one says two wives, 7 children, none lived, the other says 4 children, one lived; either way I suggest that his 'childlike' paintings full of mystery, darkness, threat, and violence may have been inspired by the tragic loss of his children, and in 1888 of his beloved wife, Clemence Boitard, his landlord's daughter, whom he had married in 1869. And you know that Rousseau never visited the locations he painted but studied his subjects from books, at the zoo, and from a taxidermy museum! Thus his paintings depict "landscapes of the mind" - and his personal mystique comes in part through a mystical Neptune-Pluto sextile.
Moving to Paris in 1868, and after years working as a successful civil servant (customs official), Rousseau taught himself to paint at age 40 and curiously, the distance between his natal Sun @00Gemini (adult personality) and Moon @10Cancer12 (childhood personality--his in the 5th house of Children and Creative Pursuits)--is 40 degrees 10 minutes. Therefore, in the degree-for-a-year way of progressing a horoscope, this syncs perfectly with one life cycle or phase of activity coming to a close as conscious (Sun) and unconscious (Moon) symbolically culminated with a Progressed Full Moon @8Cap28 (Sun 8Can28) in August 1884, the year he took up a paint brush, eventually devoting himself to Creative Pursuits full time. The very creative Rousseau also wrote poetry and composed music (ex: a waltz for his wife!) so where can we see these natural talents in his natal chart?
Paintings with Long-Lasting Appeal
Through the years Rousseau's creations have often been deemed "childlike" and "innocent" yet as noted above, there are also strands of darkness running through them such as in his Jungle Art with its predatory tigers and other animals 'lurking' (my word!) behind leaves and vines (spy them in The Dream, above!) The childlike quality in many of his paintings makes sense when we consider that his Sun is in Gemini, Mercurial sign of the child, while his Moon is happily in Cancer, sign of Family, Mother, and Home (he didn't willingly wander far from it, apparently).
So if you look at his natal horoscope, you'll see I've scribbled my study notes upon the chart and in the lower right corner, you can see listed a famous composer who shared Rousseau's Sun Gemini-Moon Cancer personality blend: Igor Stravinsky. I've added a (musical) quote from Stravinsky because it could easily apply to the appealing Art of Henri Rousseau, "My music is best understood by children and animals." And so it appears that every viewer's 'inner child' can be reached by gazing at the masterful artwork of Henri Rousseau!
Creative Talent in His Natal Horoscope
There are multiple indications of art talent found in Rousseau's natal chart including creative Neptune in novelty-loving Aquarius - rising at his birth. Basically, Rousseau Is Neptune. But there's more for Neptune is part of a Minor Grand Trine (highlighted in greenish turquoise) between Mars trine Neptune, then both planets sextile powerful, transformative Pluto - all at 23 degrees, an indication of something karmic going on beneath the surface and I suspect it's inherited talent which may have stayed hidden until about age 40. Actually, a Mars-Neptune trine is super creative on its own but add intense Pluto in a Minor Grand Trine pattern and the qualities of the planetary configuration deepen and allow the power of his images to transform the viewer. However, the addition of underworld Pluto to Mars and Neptune can also add dreams of violence and aggression. Yet the Mars-Neptune trine suggests a double-Pisces influence of mysticism, fated romance/s, and creativity that has a healing quality.
Now below you see his natal chart with hard working Saturn joyful in the 12th house of the Unconscious from which creativity flows (12th house = work in isolation, peace and quiet needed); Saturn is placed in futuristic Aquarius conjunct dedicated worker Vesta, one of the feminine archetypes in Astrology:
Now as you know, Saturn rules form, structure, and realism, and for creative projects Saturn forms a container for Uranian ideas to be poured into. This was easy for Rousseau for as you see, his practical Saturn (his chart-ruler) sextiles (60 degrees) genius planet Uranus with both planets as chart-ruler if you, dear reader, consider Uranus as a ruler, co-ruler, or the higher octave planet of Aquarius (and Saturn the sign's traditional ruler). Well, obviously, an easy aspect between Saturn and Uranus is excellent for creativity, for bringing into reality one's ideas, for giving them form and substance. And having the North Node of future direction conjunct Midheaven ('MC'), the Career and Public Status Point, brings public recognition and fame, even if it's delayed until the end of life.
Plus, there's another indication of artistic talent - his charming Moon-Venus conjunction in 5th house! This aspect denotes pleasant relationships especially with women (his mother must have been loving and lovely), a happy home life (yet unfortunately marred by the loss of children, as noted), and a compassionate nature which may have been supported by Rousseau's first house Jupiter in compassionate Pisces. Yet drugs, including alcohol consumption, may have tagged along with excessive Jupiter in mutable, often weak, Pisces. If so, he was no different than other creatives of his day. And there's erratic planet Uranus also rising in first house (Physical Body; Self) and there's really no telling how quirkily the planet of chaos in 1st house affected his behavior - made him 'an original' with a preference for solitude, I suspect, and maybe a little cantankerous at times. Well, the sign of Uranus describes something about behavior and in Rousseau's case, this would be pioneering Aries, ruled by energetic Mars, which is posited in the 4th house of Domestic Scene and one of the Psychological houses as well. This suggests that not all was sweetness and light in the home for angry quarrels may have broken the peace at times, or perhaps some measure of blame was cast for various reasons. Plus, Mars and Aries can suggest someone with a me-first attitude toward others which is seldom easy to live with. Of course, this relates to young Rousseau's father's behavior and to Henri himself as an adult: like father, like son.
Certainly, misunderstandings could occur as within every relationship with Rousseau's poverty adding its own aggravations to issues and difficulties at hand. And it's even possible that rigid Saturn, the 'earthly father' archetype, tilting a BOWL pattern of his planets, reveals a lack of experience in various spheres of life and this may have caused instances of misunderstandings within the realms of his empty signs and houses: 7th house Leo (except for wounded/wounding Chiron - was wounded pride a tender issue for his ego? his painting were rejected multiple times), Virgo, sign of The Critic (the Virgo-Pisces victim-savior polarity intercepted across the 1/7 relationship axis - thus karmic and unconscious), 8th house Venus-ruled Libra (but with psychological planet Pluto in Mars-ruled Aries opposite in 2nd house), 9th house Scorpio, the intense, brooding sign ruled by lusty Mars, 10th house Sagittarius, the Jupiter-ruled sign of The Seeker, and 11th house Saturn-ruled Capricorn, sign of duty and maturity. That's a lot of missed life experiences and areas to know little about! However, Rousseau did take care of his mother after the death of his father which is a major credit to his sense of responsibility. Kudos for him!
Now in closing, a word about Henri Rousseau's Pre-natal Solar Eclipse ('PE' in 10th house) @28Sag44 in the 8 North Saros Series. Here we come close to approaching a significant essence of the artist for 8 North is an indicator of unusual themes with potentials for: 'flashes of genius, visions, vivid dreams, insights, good ideas, intuitive leaps, new-found inspiration'. When affecting the individual, 8 North times a period when he is pulled away from relationships or his social life by a need to be free, "if only for a few weeks." This causes "strain in the private life" (Brady's Predictive Astrology). And more quarrels at home perhaps? These eclipse themes would have come around approximately every 19.6 years to inspire his work and/or to create relationship problems! Plus, planetary transits and progressions could set them off, positively or negatively.
Henri Rousseau's life spanned from May 21, 1844 until his death on September 2, 1910 in Paris, I regret to say, from blood poisoning (gangrene). And as you well know, images of his paintings may be found in various art museums and all across the Internet so you'll have no trouble viewing them!
Well, this concludes my Cosmic Portrait of Henri Rousseau and I hope some benefit is derived from it in some way. If so, your generous Shares would be much appreciated! Jude
Another Cosmic Profile of a Famous Artist: Astro-Notes on the Personality of Edouard Manet.