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The Cover
January 17, 2007

Exotic Landscape

Author Affiliations

The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate, MD, Senior Contributing Editor.

JAMA. 2007;297(3):242. doi:10.1001/jama.297.3.242

As the centenary of the death of the French painter Henri Rousseau (1844-1910) approaches, it is natural that interest in his work should be renewed. It is also fitting. Rousseau was a self-taught “Sunday painter,” known to his contemporaries as “Le Douanier” because of his full-time occupation as a toll collector at the gates of the city of Paris. Much misunderstood, often ridiculed, and even maligned for his awkward, “amateurish” compositions, Rousseau had no such doubts about his own abilities. Nor did he doubt the sincerity and good-heartedness of those with whom he associated. Their mockery he understood as praise; so innocent and so convinced of the goodness of his fellow man was he that on one occasion he was even conned into criminal conspiracy. (The judge before whom Rousseau was tried dropped the charges after he was shown one of Rousseau's paintings: No one that simple, the judge concluded, could possibly be guilty of criminal intent, ever.)

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